LAWMAKERS SAY AGREEMENT REACHED ON FUNDING FOR PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

LAWMAKERS SAY AGREEMENT REACHED ON FUNDING FOR PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Democrats and Republicans in Congress have reached a bipartisan agreement for a new coronavirus relief package, including funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was exhausted last week.

Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and Representative Greg Walden announced the agreement on Tuesday afternoon.

“This bill provides urgently needed stopgap funding for our national response to the coronavirus threat," said Sen. Merkley. "Over the last several weeks, I’ve spoken with hundreds of small business owners and health care providers in Oregon who are hanging on by their fingernails. Today’s action will help send out a desperately needed life raft to our small businesses and their employees, and to our hospitals and health clinics, while also providing more resources to ramp up testing efforts around the country."

The Senate has passed a $483 billion aid package, most of which would go toward the PPP. About $75 billion would go toward health care providers, in addition to the creation a nationwide virus testing program. According to the Associated Press, President Trump has already announced his support of the bill, which now goes on to the House.

The agreement did not come easily or immediately. While Republicans last week favored a smaller, quick injection of funds into the PPP as it stalled, Democrats fought for additional measures to be included in the bill — including funds specifically earmarked for smaller "underbanked" businesses that struggled to gain traction with the first round of funding.

"We need an economic recovery that is built from the grassroots up, not from the wealthy and powerful down," Merkley said. "It’s crucial that this support goes out to Main Street businesses all across America, instead of just businesses that are already well-connected and well-served by the financial system."

On Tuesday, Rep. Walden accused his Democratic colleagues of playing "partisan politics every step of the way" with both the CARES Act and the PPP funding.

“I’m glad an agreement has finally been reached to provided needed funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, and look forward to supporting it, but it didn’t have to be this way," Walden said. "With record unemployment claims, we’ve seen that every single day counts in this pandemic."

"My phone has been ringing off the hook in the last several weeks with small business people in Oregon needing federal relief, and health care providers and hospitals desperate for more PPE, testing, and other support to protect themselves and Oregonians in their care," said Sen. Wyden. "The interim agreement passed by the Senate today provides essential funding to help now for all of these folks, and it’s an improvement to what Republican Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to do a week ago."