House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) announced on Friday that he would back a Democratic proposal to add hospital funding to a $250 billion relief package for small business loans, signaling that Congress may be closer to passing the legislation.
“Hospitals need the help. Hospitals are the modern-day soldiers,” Mr. McCarthy told the Wall Street Journal. “I’d like to see money in there—money in the [Paycheck Protection Program] and money in hospitals—that would be a very smart move right now.”
Republicans have repeatedly urged their Democratic colleagues to back legislation that would replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, which was established with an initial $350 billion in loans to small businesses to provide relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
The PPP ran out of funds on Thursday, faster than expected. While Republicans sought to pass emergency relief by unanimous consent, Democrats have insisted that the legislation include additional aid to hospitals and local governments, as well as targeted aid for minority and women-owned businesses.
A deal must be “a little more comprehensive than just giving money to one small business program,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) told reporters on Friday. Schumer said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would continue talks with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin regarding the legislation.
However, some Democrats have called to immediately fund the PPP. Karen Mills, the head of the Small Business Administration during Barack Obama’s first term, called on Democrats to act quickly to refund the program.
“Congress has to act as soon as possible,” Mills told Roll Call on Thursday.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) on Thursday also backed immediate funding for the PPP.
“The Senate should approve additional funding by unanimous consent ASAP,” Sinema wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Small businesses need our help to survive during this emergency.”