The Senate may act as early as Thursday to provide new relief to small businesses as Congress races to keep up with economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Paycheck Protection Program, a key component of the recently passed CARES Act, is proving to be a popular source of relief. Treasury has approved all existing SBA-certified lenders to make loans and these banks have scrambled to meet the overwhelming demand. It is clear to Congress and the White House that the initial $350 billion appropriation may not be enough.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he's spoken to all four House and Senate party leaders about sending $250 billion to the program. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he intends to pass new relief as soon as Thursday without a roll call vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated her initial support, saying in an interview on CNN that it was clear the small business program needs more funds immediately.
Congressional leaders are once again concerned about timing and procedure. The plan would be to pass the legislation by voice vote when the Senate meets on Thursday and the House on Friday. However, as before, a single House member could object to passing the extension via voice vote and demand lawmakers travel to Washington to vote in person. Similarly, a single senator could fight the plans.
Speaker Pelosi still plans to pursue additional relief legislation package to expand unemployment benefits, provide further direct cash payments and increase funding for state and local governments. President Trump has expressed support for an infrastructure package designed to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Senator McConnell has not indicated his plans beyond the additional funding for small business loans.
The continued spread of the virus makes it increasingly difficult for Congress to do business in a normal manner. Decisions are being made at high levels with action following at a fast pace. We will continue to keep you up to date on economic relief legislation.
You can find a detailed breakdown of the latest guidance for the Paycheck Protection Program here.