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Standalone PPP Renewal Stalls; McConnell Reportedly Advises White House Not to Make Deal on New Stimulus

  • Standalone bill to authorize another round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program fails to earn enough support to pass the Senate
  • While the program has widespread support, Democrats criticized the measure as insufficient
  • Mitch McConnell reportedly advises White House not to accept any compromise deal on economic stimulus as he readies a “skinny” relief measure for a Wednesday vote

A standalone proposal to revive the Paycheck Protection Program failed to gather enough support to pass a Senate vote on Tuesday, with both Democrats and Republicans accusing each other of political grandstanding.

The bill sought to approve $258 billion, including $137 billion in previously approved but unspent funds, for the Small Business Administration to introduce a new round of forgivable business loans. It was tabled after falling short of the 60 votes needed to advance.

The proposal made loans available to businesses with fewer than 301 employees with a year-over-year drop in revenues of at least 35 percent in any quarter of 2020. Eligible companies would be able to receive a loan equal to 10 weeks of payroll, capped at $2 million, and the loan would be forgivable if spent on payroll or certain fixed costs.

Since passing the bipartisan CARES Act earlier this year in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Democrats and Republicans have been at loggerheads over further relief. Leaders in both parties accused each other of playing politics on the matter. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats have been unreasonably restricting aid in hopes of a larger aid package, while Senator Chuck Schumer accused Republicans of pulling “political stunts” instead of pursuing an adequate relief measure.

Democrats have largely favored a comprehensive relief package instead of standalone measures. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been speaking frequently to negotiate a compromise on new economic stimulus expected to fall somewhere between a $1.8 trillion offer previously extended by Mnuchin and a $2.2 trillion bill passed by House Democrats. President Donald Trump has said he could support greater spending in a new stimulus bill, despite Senate Republicans’ reticence.

Pelosi set Tuesday as the final day to find a compromise before Election Day. She later downplayed this deadline after saying enough progress had been made to continue talks with the hope of reaching a deal in the near future.

McConnell has said any relief measure supported by Trump that passes the House of Representatives will be brought to the floor for a Senate vote, but he has not said when the bill will take place. He reportedly advised the White House not to approve any deal struck by Pelosi and Mnuchin, saying it could be politically damaging to Senate Republicans and upset efforts to approve Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

McConnell has also set a vote on Wednesday for a COVID-19 relief bill which allocates about $500 billion for unemployment benefits, schools, and other matters. This measure is also likely to meet defeat, as it is akin to another “skinny” relief bill that was shot down in the Senate in September.

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