Senate should boost coronavirus small business loans to halt layoffs: McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate should quickly approve more funds for small-business loans to prevent layoffs due to the coronavirus outbreak.

McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would seek to pass additional funds Thursday without calling senators back to Washington for a recorded vote.

There’s been intense demand for the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which launched Friday. The program allows businesses to take out loans for payroll and overhead, with the amount forgiven if businesses don’t lay off workers.

The enormously popular program authorizes banks to issue loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, with certain exceptions.

“The small-business Paycheck Protection Program needs more funding,” McConnell said in a prepared statement. “Thanks to the hard work of small businesses and lenders, billions of dollars have already landed and tens of billions more are already in the pipeline. Jobs are literally being saved as we speak. But as Secretary Mnuchin has explained, Congress needs to quickly provide more funding or this crucial program will run dry.”

McConnell said he would work with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to reach an agreement so that an in-person vote won’t be needed.

“I will work with Leader Schumer and hope to approve further funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by unanimous consent or voice vote during the next scheduled Senate session on Thursday,” he said.

The program was a large component of the more than $2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed last month after painstaking bipartisan negotiations. That bill also approved $500 billion in loans to other businesses, a $600 per week boost in unemployment pay, and a $1,200 per person direct payment for people earning up to $75,000.

President Trump said Monday he was interested in issuing another round of direct checks.

During the past two weeks, federal statistics indicate about 10 million people filed for unemployment benefits as local governments ordered businesses to close to prevent the spread of the virus, which has now infected nearly 400,000 US residents.

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