McConnell: Senate to boost small business loan program with possible action on Thursday

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US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivers a press conference after the Senate impeachment vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 5, 2020. – The US Senate acquitted President Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress following a historic two-week trial. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate will push this week for additional funds for a small business loan program to keep workers on the payroll during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Congress gave about $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. But McConnell said he hopes the Senate will approve more funding on Thursday to prevent the fund from expiring.

“It is quickly becoming clear that Congress will need to provide more funding or this crucial program may run dry,” said McConnell. “That cannot happen. Nearly 10 million Americans filed for unemployment in just the last two weeks. This is already a record-shattering tragedy and every day counts.”

McConnell said he would work with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to approve the boost in funding for the program.

It’s unclear how much money the Senate is hoping to provide. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican of Florida and chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, tweeted on Tuesday that the program needs “at least another $200-$250 billion.”

“The fear that #PPP will run out of money is creating tremendous anxiety among #SmallBusiness,” he wrote. “We have days, NOT weeks to address this.”

Rubio asked Mnuchin to request additional funding for the program after seeing the large volume of loan applications, according to two sources familiar.

Some senators worry that small business owners may start to turn away from applying for loans if they believe the money won’t be there and instead move to lay off workers.

While there have been technical issues with the PPP program, people are still lining up to get money.

“Even with people having trouble with the technology, the demands are there and we are seeing huge numbers of applications from the banks,” one source told CNN. “The more certainty you can provide, the more likely it is the program is going is going to carry out their objectives.”

McConnell has not yet reached out to Schumer about passing additional funding for the emergency small business loan program this week, according to a senior Democratic aide as of Tuesday morning. Rubio has also not yet reached out to his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the aide said.

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