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McConnell on Additional SBA Funding: ‘Senate Democrats Blocked It’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 7, 2019. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) took aim at Democrats for stifling efforts to replenish the popular small business lending program whose $349 billion budget ran out on Thursday.

“One week ago, Mr. President, I warned that the Paycheck Protection Program was running out of money. I tried to pass a clean funding bill. Senate Democrats blocked it,” McConnell said during a Senate “pro forma” session on Thursday afternoon, after the Small Business Administration announced Thursday morning that the initiative, having approved more than 1.6 million loans.

“Here’s where we are, a week later, with absolutely no progress. This morning, the program ran out of money and shut down, just as I warned a week ago,” McConnell continued.

The Senate majority leader warned last week that the program, designed by Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and others, needed more funding after the White House Office of Management and Budget said that the program was outpacing expected demand.

“It is quickly becoming clear that Congress will need to provide more funding or this crucial program may run dry,” McConnell said on April 7. “That cannot happen. Nearly 10 million Americans filed for unemployment in just the last two weeks. This is already a record-shattering tragedy, and every day counts.”

But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) countered with their own proposal, which demanded 50 percent of the additional cash for farmers, women, minorities, and veteran-owned businesses, as well as an additional $100 billion in hospital funding and $150 billion more for state and local governments.

Schumer (D., N.Y.) tried to discuss a last-minute deal with Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin on Wednesday, but the efforts failed. Rubio called the decision by Democrats not to accept a straight renewal of funding “absurd” and “ridiculous,” with Congress not due back in session until May 4.

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