Mnuchin expects Congress to pass PPP money; access to SBA programs unclear |

Mnuchin expects Congress to pass PPP money; access to SBA programs unclear

-The Hagstrom Report

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Tuesday he expects Congress to pass a bill to provide more money for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, but farmer access to SBA programs remains uncertain.

At a small business event today at the White House, President Donald Trump said that the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans to businesses that will be forgiven if they keep employees on staff, was so popular that the administration has asked Congress for another $250 billion for the program.

Mnuchin added that he had spoken that morning with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif. “I urged them, at the president’s request, that they get us another $250 billion approved. And we look forward to the Senate passing that on Thursday and the House passing that on Friday. This is much-needed support.”

The House and the Senate are holding only pro-forma sessions, but each chamber is expected to pass the bill without a roll call vote.

Pelosi said, however, that Democrats will demand certain conditions on new funding for small-business loans amid the coronavirus pandemic to ensure that minorities and underserved communities aren’t left out of the program, The Hill reported, citing a Pelosi interview with CNN.

But farmer access to the SBA programs is still uncertain.

The American Farm Bureau Federation said it believes farmers are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program, but it won’t cover foreign workers or contractors.

SBA’s initial rule for another program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, said farmers are not eligible, but Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Senate Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; and a coalition of House members have written SBA that it was congressional intent to include farmers in the EIDL program.

Roberts told The Hagstrom Report in an email Tuesday, “The Small Business Administration has made positive steps through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to provide rural America with a measure of financial relief. I am continuing to work with the administration to help clarify the details of farm eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Paycheck Protection Program assistance included in the CARES Act. And, I will continue to work with Secretary Perdue and others on efforts to address the needs of farmers, ranchers, and other members of the critical food and agriculture supply chain.”

A spokesperson for Stabenow said she had not gotten a response to the letter she wrote with Roberts.