WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ Negotiations are ongoing between Republicans and Democrats on an emergency bill that would inject an additional $250 billion into the “Paycheck Protection Program,” which was created to assist small businesses during the pandemic.
With most lawmakers quarantining at a home, the bill needs unanimous consent to pass. While Republicans are on board with the latest version of the bill, Democrats argue that the program has not run out of money just yet and there are many other issues that need immediate attention.
“My colleagues must not treat working Americans as political hostages,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky said of the Democrats.
“I’m afraid that this unanimous consent is basically a political stunt,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, retorted soon after blocking McConnell’s request.
McConnell stressed the importance of additional funding for small business relief.
“We’re not talking about making any policy changes,” he said. “We’re literally changing the number 350 to 600. That’s all that we are suggesting here.”
Democrats are asking that groups who were excluded from previous relief bills be included in this one so everyone is receiving the help they need during these unprecedented times.
“We know we need more money for this program, many of us predicted this before we passed the CARES Act, but for goodness sake, let’s take the opportunity to make some bipartisan fixes,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said.
Whatever the Senate decides upon must also pass in the Democratic-controlled House.
“We’re all in favor of more funding for small businesses, but we also have to focus to on hospitals as well as state and local government,” Rep Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, said.
Negotiations are expected to continue behind closed doors until Monday and are apparently being mediated by Vice President Mike Pence.
McConnell believes this will the lawmakers’ last chance to easily inject more money into the small business community.