Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate will push this week for additional funds for a small business loan program to keep workers on the payroll during the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, Congress gave about $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that he would speak with congressional leaders to secure $250 billion more for the program.
“It is quickly becoming clear that Congress will need to provide more funding or this crucial program may run dry,” said McConnell. “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.”
McConnell said he would work with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Mnuchin to approve the boost in funding for the program.
Any effort that passes the Senate would also need to pass the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday that she spoke with Mnuchin earlier in the day.
“We want to make sure that the program is administered in a way that does not solidify inequality in how people have access to capital, but instead (is a) benefit to everyone who qualifies for it. So we want to have certain considerations if we were to go forward with that,” Pelosi said.
It’s unclear how much money the Senate is hoping to provide. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican of Florida and chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, tweeted on Tuesday that the program needs “at least another $200-$250 billion.”
“The fear that #PPP will run out of money is creating tremendous anxiety among #SmallBusiness,” he wrote. “We have days, NOT weeks to address this.”
Rubio asked Mnuchin to request additional funding for the program after seeing the large volume of loan applications, according to two sources familiar.
Some senators worry that small business owners may start to turn away from applying for loans if they believe the money won’t be there and instead move to lay off workers.
While there have been technical issues with the PPP program, people are still lining up to get money.
“Even with people having trouble with the technology, the demands are there and we are seeing huge numbers of applications from the banks,” one source told CNN. “The more certainty you can provide, the more likely it is the program is going is going to carry out their objectives.”