Paycheck Protection Program runs dry; GOP blames Democrats

A $350 billion emergency fund for distressed small businesses was running out of money Wednesday night and no more applications can be accepted until Congress approves more money, Trump administration officials said.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza said the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program have saved millions of jobs in the past two weeks.

“The SBA has processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days,” they said. “By law, the SBA will not be able to issue new loan approvals once the programs experience a lapse in appropriations.”

Senate Democrats blocked a move by the administration and Senate Republicans last week to add $250 billion to the PPP fund, saying they wanted hundreds of billions extra for other emergency relief from the coronavirus crisis.

Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, said Wednesday that PPP approved $339 billion to cover paychecks for millions of workers in 12 days, with another $10 billion to cover fees and processing.

“Yet somehow the most bipartisan & successful part of CARES Act is now a hostage in a game of chicken,” Mr. Rubio tweeted.

President Trump called on Democrats earlier Wednesday to approve the extra money.

“It’s been so good that it’s almost depleted, and we want to replenish it, and we can’t get the Democrats to approve it,” Mr. Trump said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that Democrats “know that in order for the Paycheck Protection Program to succeed, it must work for everyone.”

“That is why we have been asking for the administration to work with us to help: the underbanked small businesses and others who are struggling to access the PPP; desperate state and local governments; hospitals on the front lines of the epidemic,” she said. “As has been clear since last week, Republicans’ bill which fails to address these critical issues cannot get unanimous consent in the House.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a joint statement that the depletion of the PPP fund “did not have to happen.”

“The cost of continued Democratic obstruction will be pink slips and shuttered businesses,” the Republicans said. “We hope Democrats see reason soon and finally heed Republicans’ repeated calls for a funding bill that can quickly earn unanimous consent from all 100 senators and become law.”

Mr. Mnuchin and Ms. Carranza urged Congress “to appropriate additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program — a critical and overwhelmingly bipartisan program — at which point we will once again be able to process loan applications, issue loan numbers, and protect millions more paychecks.”

“The high demand we have seen underscores the need for hardworking Americans to have access to relief as soon as possible,” they said. “We want every eligible small business to participate and get the resources they need.”
Mr. Rubio called the impasse “inexcusable,” saying 700,000 small business applications are “in limbo” and no new loans will be made until Congress approves extra money.

The program provided loans of up to $10 million for businesses with 500 or fewer employees, to cover payroll and some expenses for two months. The portion of the loan used for payroll is forgiven.

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