Senate Readies Vote Next Week on Paycheck Protection Program Enhancement Bill

  

 

Jessica L. Jeane, J.D.
Director of Public Policy and Communications
October 13, 2020

"The National Society of Accountants (NSA) appreciates the importance of PPP-related information for our members and their clients," said NSA's CEO John Rice. "While uncertainty still surrounds the program, NSA will continue to provide timely updates for our members on all pertinent PPP developments."

Senate PPP Enhancement Bill

Senate leadership is preparing to hold a vote next week on a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) enhancement bill after senators return to Washington, D.C., on October 19. At this time, the measure, although supporting the small business loan program enacted under the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136), is unlikely to fare well.

“When the full Senate returns on October 19, our first order of business will be voting again on targeted relief for American workers, including new funding for the PPP," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an October 13 statement. McConnell’s announcement comes just two days after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent Congress a letter urging a stand-alone PPP bill amidst stalled negotiations on a broader stimulus package.

“The PPP is a popular program that has saved tens of millions of American jobs. It is so bipartisan that its first round was replenished and extended several times by unanimous consent in both the Senate and the House,” McConnell said. 

Senate PPP Bill on Shaky Ground

However, many analyses on Capitol Hill are comparing next week’s expected vote to the “skinny” GOP relief bill Democrats filibustered in the Senate last month. Like the previous GOP measure, next week’s anticipated bill, too, is expected to clock in around $500 billion. All Senate Republicans voted in favor of that economic relief bill except for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Moreover, the Democratic-blocked bill included several initiatives, including enhancing the PPP, that are expected to surface in the forthcoming measure next week.

Thus, some staffers on Capitol Hill are calling the upcoming Senate vote a messaging exercise to communicate Republicans' priorities while anticipating little to no requisite Democratic support. Additionally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in an October 13 “Dear Colleague” letter quoted House Small Business Committee Chair Nydia Velázquez in criticizing the administration for now “requesting that Congress consider small business relief alone and in a far more inadequate form.”

Meanwhile, President Trump in an October 13 tweet wrote, “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!" However, at this time it appears highly unlikely that another relief package upwards of $2 trillion, the likes of which the Trump administration and Democrats have been negotiating, will garner much support among Senate Republicans.

New PPP Funding

Notably, McConnell’s October 13 statement mentions “new” PPP funding, differing from Mnuchin and Meadow’s most recent call for reopening the small business loan program, which closed on August 8, to unlock the frozen $134 billion in remaining funds. That said, provisions of Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Susan Collins’, R-Me., Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act, are expected to surface in the forthcoming measure to which McConnell is referring. A section-by-section summary of Rubio and Collins’ bill can be located here.

However, a spokesperson for McConnell told NSA on October 13 that it is “unclear” at this point what particular PPP enhancements will be included in next week’s bill. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s, D-N.Y., office has not yet responded to NSA’s inquiry regarding how much, if any at all, Democratic support could manifest on a stand-alone measure. Recently, however, Democrats have refused to address any legislative relief associated with the pandemic in a so-called "piecemeal" manner. 

"I'm going to try next week one more time...," McConnell said at an event in Kentucky on October 13. "I want to give our friends on the other side one more chance."

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