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Democrats Block Effort to Add $250 Billion to Coronavirus Small Business Funds

Michael Rainey

A bill that would add $250 billion to the emergency loan program for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic fell short in the Senate Thursday.

In a nearly deserted Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to approve the legislation by voice vote, but Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) objected to the request, calling it a “political stunt” while noting that the program hasn’t yet run through its initial $350 billion funding. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) offered an amendment to the bill with provisions Democrats have been seeking, which McConnell promptly blocked. The Senate then adjourned until next week.

Even if it had passed the Senate, the bill was not expected to pass the House, given Democrats’ interest in new requirements for the small business program, as well as a broader aid package. “The bill that they put forth will not get unanimous support in the House,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday. “It just won’t.”

What’s next: The small business relief program has seen tremendous demand and will likely receive a substantial increase in funding. Lawmakers on both sides have reportedly expressed optimism that they’ll be able to reach a deal. When and what the deal might look like remain unclear, though.

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