|Senators failed to pass a roughly $250 billion funding bill to bolster the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program amid disagreements over additional funding for COVID-19 response efforts.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attempted to pass additional funding for the PPP by voice vote during a “pro forma” session this morning but was met with opposition by Senate Democrats who objected to unanimous consent passage.
The Democrats’ latest offer calls for additional funding priorities beyond the small business loan funding in the “Phase 3.5” effort, calling for (1) $100 billion for health care providers; (2) $150 billion for state and local governments; and (3) a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have also expressed displeasure with Leader McConnell for allegedly refusing to negotiate with Democratic leadership on this next tranche of funding.
Washington is currently at a crossroads with the Phase 3.5 measure as officials from both sides of the aisle continue to jostle for positioning. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) emphasized that the Senate’s proposal cannot pass the House in its current state, and could ultimately be blocked by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) who has expressed concerns about passing this funding package absent a quorum. Conversely,
White House officials have stated that President Donald Trump will not sign a bill that includes priorities beyond the PPP, saying that he prefers to handle additional funding for hospitals, state, and local governments in the “Phase IV” legislation.
As such, the timing for passage of the Phase 3.5 measure is in flux. Senators will convene for their next pro forma session on Monday, Apr. 13 at 10 AM. As always, the Texas Association of Business is following this closely and will keep you up-to-date.