While nothing is official yet, optimism is growing that Washington will approve more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), extending a key lifeline for small businesses and their employees during the coronavirus pandemic.
Members of the House of Representatives have been told to prepare for a meeting as early as Wednesday morning, which The Hill has interpreted as a sign that Congress and the White House are close to an agreement.
No announcement has been made as of 3 p.m. this afternoon. The Hill writer Jordain Carney, quoting an anonymous source, says the package is expected to include $250 billion to recapitalize the program and another $60 billion specifically for small banks. Negotiators have apparently agreed to non-PPP funding as well: $25 billion is expected for testing and possible $60 billion more for disaster loans.
As New Jersey U.S. Senator Robert Menendez said during an NJBIA webinar Friday afternoon, funding for PPP enjoys widespread support from members of both parties. The holdup is over funding for other priorities.
Menendez has called for more money for disaster relief for New Jersey as the second-most affected state and to consider revenue losses to the state and municipalities as a funding need. He is sponsoring a bill to provide $500 billion in aid to state and local governments.
“The National Governors Association, a bipartisan group of all 50 governors, put out a statement saying they need $500 billion collectively,” Menendez said. “So I hope the (Trump) administration will hone in to both the Democratic and Republican governors in terms of need.”
The initial $349 billion appropriated for PPP in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was exhausted last week. According to the Small Business Administration, which administers the program with approved private-sector lenders, 1.6 million loans had been approved for a total of more than $342 billion as of April 16.