Senate fails to pass increase in SBA funding |

Senate fails to pass increase in SBA funding

-The Hagstrom Report

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.

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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., former Vice President Joe Biden’s choice as a vice presidential candidate, has said she is not a protectionist and believes in trade.But she has also said she would not have voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement, voted against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement due to environmental concerns, and opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations from which President Donald Trump withdrew, according to media reports.At a primary debate in September 2019 when she was campaigning for president, Harris said, “I am not a protectionist Democrat. Look, we need to sell our stuff. And that means we need to sell it to people overseas. That means we need trade policies that allow that to happen.”Harris has also been critical of Trump’s trade policies, calling increased tariffs a tax on the American people.Responding to a Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, Harris said,Trump’s “trade war is crushing American farmers, killing American jobs, and punishing American consumers.”“I would work with our allies in Europe and Asia to confront China on its troubling trade practices, not perpetuate Trump’s failing tariff war that is being paid for by hard‐working Americans,” she said.Harris’s rural platform also said that she would take executive action to re-establish the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration as an independent office at the Agriculture Department and “appoint an Agriculture secretary who will prioritize enforcement of the Packers & Stockyards Act.”Re-establishing GIPSA has been a goal of groups that are critical of U.S. beef imports.Note: Links to Harris’s presidential campaign website have been redirected to the Biden campaign site, but the text of her “Partnership With Rural America” policy page may still be read through a web cache, at an analysis of Harris’s trade statements, Simon Lester of the Cato Institute wrote this week, “Where does all of that leave us? She does not seem to be an economic nationalist or isolationist, and she makes clear that she believes the United States should engage with the world economically.”“At the same time, though, the terms of that engagement are a bit uncertain. What exactly would she want to see in a trade agreement before she would sign on to it? She clearly wants more labor and environment provisions in trade agreements, although USMCA had quite a lot and she still voted against it, arguing that climate change should be covered as well.“Maybe the answer is simply that she wants to change the scope of trade agreements, so that they still promote trade liberalization, but at the same time continue their expansion towards general global governance of non‐trade issues. Vice presidents sometimes take on specific issue areas in which to play an active role. If Biden wins and Harris as VP has trade in her portfolio, we will find out more.”


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