WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thousands of small business owners across the United States have been unable to secure funding as the federal government-backed loan program meant to save them and protect worker paychecks officially ran out of money Thursday morning, according to a report from ABC News.
Talks resumed Thursday afternoon amid a political standoff between the White House, congressional Republicans and Democrats on how and when to increase funding for the program, but no agreement was reached. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 20, when a new deal could be approved.
The $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which experienced a tough rollout, is designed to cover eight weeks of a business’ payroll expenses so that the company can retain its workers or hire back those it may have already furloughed.
Loans provided are forgivable as long as 75 percent of the total amount borrowed is used for payroll expenses.
On mid-morning Thursday, however, the website for the Small Business Administration posted a message stating that “the SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding. Similarly, we are unable to enroll new PPP lenders at this time.”
President Trump said that the program has been “so good, it’s almost depleted, but we can’t get the Democrats to approve it” on Wednesday night.
As of late Wednesday night, according to a congressional source, more than 1.5 million applications had been approved, totaling more than $324 billion from more than 4,900 lending institutions.
The administration had requested another $250 billion for the program, but a political clash between Democrats and Republicans has let the funding lapse, the ABC News report said.
Democrats have insisted that part of the funding be preserved for lenders that service minority-owned businesses, and have pushed for another $250 billion for hospitals on the front lines of the pandemic, states and local governments that have suffered from revenue loss, as well as a 15 percent increase in food stamps.
President Trump said he’s open to a hospital-related funding increase during a phone call on Thursday.
Republicans have insisted on a straight $250 billion increase in the program, saying Congress should wait and see how the $2 trillion pandemic stimulus package has worked.
“In less than two weeks, the PPP helped over 1 million small businesses receive forgivable loans,” said Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio in a statement Wednesday. “Now, millions of small businesses are in limbo because Democrats refused to put aside partisan politics and fund this bipartisan program.”