House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has confessed to holding up funding for small businesses suffering through the coronavirus pandemic.
The Democrat told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday that her party refused to sign on to a request for $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) without additional “data,” the Washington Examiner reported. Pelosi said that Democrats made the final bill — which passed the Senate Tuesday, according to CNBC — better by extracting concessions from the GOP.
Hesitant to help businesses
The Senate-approved bill to increase funding for the PPP will head to Pelosi’s chamber on Thursday, CNBC reported. The final bill was the product of days of protracted negotiations that Republicans blamed on Democrats — and it turns out, they’re proud of the delay.
The speaker explained to Cooper on Monday that Democrats were hesitant to move forward when Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin approached them with requests for another $250 billion for the PPP, which was created by the $2 trillion CARES Act to keep payrolls at small businesses funded amid widespread stay-at-home orders. The fund ran out of money last week, The Hill reported.
Pelosi said Monday that Democrats wanted to see more “data” and include protections for “everyone” to participate before adding funds to the program. Democrats had sought additional funding beyond the $250 billion, as well as assurances that minority-owned businesses wouldn’t get snubbed by lenders, CNBC noted.
“Before you know it, boom: All of a sudden, [the small-business relief fund was] already out of money. And when the secretary came and asked me for $250 billion, a quarter of a trillion dollars, in 24 hours, I said, ‘Well, we want to see the data on how that is spent,'” Pelosi told Cooper, according to the Examiner. “But also, we want to make sure that we are — as long as we are going to the floor, that we do so in a way that makes sure that everyone can participate in the program.”
Pelosi went on to recount triumphantly how Republicans initially resisted their demands, but, in her telling, eventually conceded, winning Dems “about $120 billion more for small businesses…geared to our underbanked communities, women and minority-owned businesses, Native American, rural America, veterans, small businesses, and the rest.”
The bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday sets aside $484 billion for coronavirus relief efforts, including over $300 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program and several billion for COVID-19 testing and hospitals, according to CNBC. Republicans had accused Democrats of delaying the bill for days — but now, Democrats like Pelosi are claiming credit for hammering out a better version than what Republicans had offered.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also credited his party with working out a better deal, according to the Examiner, telling CNN on Sunday:
So we Democrats said, “Yes, we want to put more money in [for small business financial relief], but let’s set aside some money to make sure it goes to the rural areas, to the minority areas, to the unbanked.” And the $60 billion for the disaster loan was our proposal, and now the [Trump] administration is going along with that.
Many Democrats and governors have made implementing more widespread testing a precondition for opening up the economy and small and large businesses across the nation. Pelosi, for her part, has made clear that she is in no rush to end draconian lockdowns, and she called testing “key” to ending them.
“Testing is one of the places where we want the language to be as good as we can agree to, that we need a national strategy for testing,” she told Cooper on Monday, according to the New York Post. “Testing is the key that opens the door to our economy — testing, tracing, and isolation.”
Well, at least she’s honest.