Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks in the White House Briefing Room on April 13, 2020. (Official White House Photo D. Myles Cullen)

Senate Passes More Funding for SBA’s Depleted Paycheck Protection Program

Faced with no more money left in the till for small businesses from the first round of federal aid, the Senate today passed by voice vote about $484 billion in funds for hospitals, coronavirus testing, and helping businesses weather the economic blow from the virus.

The deal, reached after negotiations between Democratic leaders and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, includes $310 billion more to pour into the Paycheck Protection Program.

The Small Business Administration had put this notice on their website: “The SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said there would be “a special focus on community banks and credit unions” along with $60 billion more for Economic Injury Disaster Loans. About $75 billion more will fund hospitals and healthcare providers, and an additional $25 billion will be allocated to “state-led COVID-19 testing plans and for research, development, and other testing support from key agencies such as the CDC and the NIH.”

“The bill before us is an interim measure,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, adding that “in the weeks ahead, Congress must prepare another major bill — big, bold, and ambitious.”

“States, localities, tribal governments need support. So does the Postal Service. Working Americans need rental assistance. Frontline workers deserve hazard pay. We must ensure our 2020 elections are conducted fairly,” Schumer said.

The House will take up the measure on Wednesday, and at today’s White House briefing Mnuchin said the government would get the program “up and running quickly after that.”

“We have over a million companies that have received this with less than ten workers. So there is very broad participation in really small business,” Mnuchin said. “I will comment there have been some big businesses that have taken these loans. I was pleased to see that Shake Shack returned the money. We will be putting out some FAQs. There is a certification that people are making, and I asked people just make sure the intent of this was for business that needed the money; we will put out an FAQ, but again the intent of this money was not for big public companies that have access to capital.”

Mnuchin noted that “certain people” who took assistance in the original round of funding “may have not been clear in understanding the certification, so we will give people the benefit of the doubt.”

“We’re going to put an FAQ out, explain the certification. If you pay back the loan right away you won’t have liability to the SBA and to Treasury, but there are severe consequences for people who don’t attest properly to the certification, and again we want to make sure this money is available to small businesses that need it, people who have invested their entire life savings,” he said. “We appreciate what is going on, and they are hiring people back.”

Asked how he would ensure that small business who missed out on funding then would receive lifeline aid in this new round of funding, Mnuchin replied, “We are working with the banks. We are extremely pleased that the small banks to did great 20 percent of the loans were made by banks of 1 billion and less 60 percent by–by 20 billion and less and the big banks also. We want everybody to participate.”

“Let me just say kind of we are pleased with the success of this program and how quickly this got up operationally. We’ve put out more money in these SBA loans than in the last 10 years of SBAs I want to thank all of the banks that have worked really hard,” he said. “We knew that when we passed this originally… we wouldn’t have enough money. That is why we have worked with Congress for more money, and this is going to — you know, we’ve already impacted about 30 million workers. There will be a lot more, so we look forward to this having a big impact on the economy.”

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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