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Senate Dems Stall $250 Billion Small-Business Relief Package, Demand Targeting for Minority-Owned Businesses

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky.) walks to the Senate Chamber floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., April 9, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Senate Democrats on Thursday stalled the passage of a $250 billion relief package for small businesses backed by President Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) attempted to speed up the bill’s passage by calling for a vote by unanimous consent, but was blocked by Democrats who requested protections for minority-owned businesses and additional aid to local health care providers.

“Do not block emergency aid you do not oppose just because you want something more,” McConnell said at the opening of Thursday’s Senate session.

Republicans intended the $250 billion as an addition to the Paycheck Protection Program, which gives forgivable loans to small businesses. That program is currently worth $350 billion.

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) attempted to pass the Democrats’ own legislation that would add another $250 billion in aid to hospitals and local governments to the Republicans’ small business relief package. The Democrats also failed to pass their legislation by unanimous consent.

Following the failed votes, McConnell said he did not oppose the Democrats’ requests on principle, but that the “paycheck protection program” needed urgent relief.

“No one is necessarily against additional assistance,” McConnell told CNN. However, the small business program “is the one program that was running out of money, needed assistance now and all my proposed amendment would do at the request of the administration was simply change one number.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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