Senate fails to pass increase in SBA funding
The Senate failed today to pass a bill that would have increased funding for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program by unanimous consent.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged the Democrats not to object to the bill that would have increased funding for the PPP program from $250 billion to $600 billion. But Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said that the funding level was not the primary issue, and Van Hollen tried to amend the measure and McConnell objected to that.
McConnell said he was “surprised” that Democrats had reacted to the bill by proposing additions to it, but Cardin and Van Hollen said the Republican move to increase funding was a “stunt.” The PPP has not yet run out of money, while other programs have, the Democrats said.
Cardin said that the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program, also run by the SBA, has run out of money. That is the program for which the SBA has said farmers are not eligible. Bipartisan efforts were underway to add a provision to the bill to require the SBA to allow farmers to participate.
Van Hollen also cited a letter from the National Restaurant Association that said the PPP program needs more funds but “equally important is the need to address the limitations of the program that do not recognize the unique and evolving changes of the restaurant business cycle and our path to recovery.”
Van Hollen noted that “this is not a Republican group or a Democratic group. This is a group that represents small businesses, restaurants, and what they say to us this morning is yes, we do need additional money, we know that, but equally important let’s fix some of the kinks in this program.”
The Senate’s failure also means that the proposal by Democrats backed by anti-hunger groups to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits by 15% will not be considered at this time.
Cardin and Van Hollen urged McConnell to negotiate with the Democrats rather than present legislation for consideration.
Senate Democrats also unveiled a coronavirus relief plan that would cost $500 billion, The Hill reported.
The Senate is in pro forma sessions until April 20.
Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and 80 of his colleagues last week introduced the Protect Farmers from the SEC Act.