Democrats and Republicans have still not reached a deal for legislation to expand the payment protection program – even though lawmakers and White House officials claimed Sunday they were hopeful a deal would be reached by Monday morning at the latest.
With no deal on the table, Congress is still expecting to vote this week on the package to allocate another $250 billion to the fund, which aims to help small businesses pay their rent and keep employees on the payroll.
But the delay shows the continued hold-out from both sides of the aisle as each wants to declare victory in the negotiations.
The debate however, appears to be more for show, as Democrats and Republican agree largely on expanding the program but Democrats demand more be included in the interim relief package than just the payment protection program (PPP) fund replenishment.
Democrats blocked the GOP-proposed relief earlier this month after claiming it didn’t go far enough, and this new legislation, if passed, would include $75 billion for hospitals with $25 billion of that set aside for testing.
Lawmakers have still not reached a deal as of Monday morning to expand the payment protection program for small business relief after funds ran dry from the $350 billion account less than two weeks after opening the application website
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (left) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (right) said they were ‘close’ to a deal and expected to reveal an agreement by Monday morning
The PPP has also come under fire after Shake Shack, a national burger chain, was able to obtain the $10 million grant meant for businesses with less than 500 employees. It vowed Monday to return the loan after it said it obtained relief funds elsewhere
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday morning that a deal for small business relief could be reached with Democrats as early as Sunday night, which obviously did not happen.
‘I think we’re very close to a deal today,’ Mnuchin told CNN ‘s State of the Union as he continued negotiations with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. ‘I’m hopeful that we can get that done.’
‘I’m hopeful that we can reach an agreement that the Senate can pass this tomorrow, and that the House can take it up on Tuesday. Wednesday, we would be back up and running,’ he continued.
The PPP has also come under fire for officials not taking its guidelines seriously enough, including adhering to the rule that the fund only be granted to businesses with 500 employees or less.
Shake Shack, a national burger chain, that has laid off and furloughed hundreds of employees since the coronavirus outbreak was able to obtain the $10 million grant, which the government pledged to forgive if employers use the loan to prevent laying off its employees.
The CEO and founder announced in a statement made public Monday morning that it had obtained new funding and would return the $10 million grant to the Small Business Association (SBA).
Less than two weeks after the SBA opened applications for the grant, it was out of funding – and the $10 million could go to another small business seeking the assistance.
Schumer said Sunday morning that a deal for PPP expansion was coming ‘tonight or early tomorrow morning,’ but no such agreement has been revealed yet.
He added that he, Pelosi and Mnuchin have engaged in continuous discussions to get a deal on the table to expand the PPP.
‘I think we’re very close to a deal today,’ Mnuchin told CNN. ‘I’m hopeful that we can reach an agreement that the Senate can pass this tomorrow, and that the House can take it up on Tuesday. Wednesday, we would be back up and running’
Schumer confirmed to CNN that he felt an agreement with Republicans could be reached by Sunday night or Monday morning
The deal will come as more than 22 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the last four weekly filing periods as they were laid off or furloughed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic
‘Our staffs are meeting 24/7. We have made very good progress, and I’m very hopeful we could come to an agreement tonight or early tomorrow morning,’ the New York Democrat told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday morning.
‘I am very, very hopeful,’ Schumer continued. ‘And, as you heard, many of the things we have asked for on the banking side, on the testing side, on the hospital side, they’re going along with. So we feel pretty good. We still have a few more issues to deal with.’
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Sunday evening that the lower chamber should expect to vote on the interim relief package as early as this week.
‘Members are advised that pending agreement on interim legislation related to the coronavirus response and the Paycheck Protection Program, the House could meet as early as Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. to consider that legislation,’ Hoyer said in a statement.
He added: ‘Members are further advised that at this time, a recorded vote on the interim legislation is likely in the House this week.’
Hoyer said all members of Congress will have sufficient notice to get to Washington, D.C. in time to vote on the legislation.
More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past four weekly filing periods, many after losing their jobs at family-owned restaurants and small businesses.
The markets have also plummeted and struggled to keep stable in the wake of the pandemic, which has killed nearly 40,000 people in the U.S. and surged to more than 741,000 cases nationwide in a little over a months-time.
The economic impact of the virus, experts assert, could affect the country for years to come.
But Mnuchin, the head of the treasury Department, which oversees the allocation of PPP grant to small businesses, said he believes the recovery will be much quicker.
‘I think it will be months, I definitely don’t think it will be years,’ he told CNN when asked when the U.S. can expect to return to the economic position it was in before the pandemic.
‘We are going to conquer this virus. We are going to have terrific breakthroughs, I know,’ he continued.
‘Rightfully so, people are being cautious. On the other hand, as we get comfortable reopening the economy, I think we’ll see a big rebound.’
Democrats were able to block a GOP-proposed expansion of the payment protection program earlier this month as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed it didn’t include the measures they wanted passed
The Small Business Administration stopped accepting applications for the grant, which is forgiven as long as businesses used the funds to prevent layoffs, on Thursday.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought a bill to the floor April 9 that would increase the PPP by $250 billion and allow the program to accept more applications and provide relief to thousands more businesses.
The original measure was included in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to provide stimulus and relief for individuals, families, businesses and corporations struggling to cope with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The PPP was allocated $350 billion, but all the funds were approved for distribution to small businesses across the country in less than two weeks after applications were opened.
Republicans demanded ahead of the fund running dry that it be expanded – but Democrats felt other issues were more important to focus on, like expanding the federal food stamps program and boosting production and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals and other healthcare centers.