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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., defended his party on Friday as MSNBC anchor Willie Geist pressed him on Democrats’ reluctance to approve relief for small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Senator Schumer, as you just laid out, that PPP [paycheck protection] program has run out of its $350 billion worth of funds,” Geist said on “Morning Joe.”
“There’s that $250 billion legislation proposed to get that money to small businesses right now. It looks to a lot of small business owners who are waiting for the checks, who actually have had loans approved but [are] now hearing from their banks there’s no money left in the fund […] Like you all, the Democrats, are standing in the way of that because you want to negotiate another piece for hospitals and state and local governments.”
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“No, that’s not true,” Schumer responded. Geist followed up by asking why the party wouldn’t consider a separate bill for funding state and local governments.
“First of all, to give the money to the PPP program without correcting it would make no sense,” Schumer said. “You’d still have more than half the businesses left out and getting no money. Don’t just ask Democrats. Eight Republican senators said that in a letter to [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell. The Chamber of Commerce, hardly a Democratic organization, also agreed.”
Schumer also emphasized the need to help hospitals and avoid layoffs in state and local governments.
“And when they lay off hundreds of thousands of people, which they will before May 4th when we come back, that’s just as bad as the small business person not being able to employ people … these immediate things are needed,” he said.
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He added that he was making “progress” in conversations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Geist challenged Schumer by pointing to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who called on the Senate to pass additional funding “ASAP.”
“The PPP program is going to run out of funding soon — the Senate should approve add’l funding by unanimous consent ASAP,” she tweeted on Thursday. “Small businesses need our help to survive during this emergency.”
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Schumer responded by claiming that Sinema had called on both parties to do their part — apparently referring to another tweet from Thursday.
“Arizona businesses are counting on us to help them during this emergency. I’m calling on leadership in both parties to get thru [sic] this stalemate ASAP — we can’t wait longer,” she had tweeted.