Congress remains in a stalemate over additional coronavirus aid, largely thanks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who refuses to trim down her party’s massive $3.5 trillion package to meet Senate demands.
With Congress deadlocked, President Donald Trump’s administration is now exploring the use of more executive orders to give small businesses additional assistance as they continue to struggle amid the pandemic.
“He’s looking for ideas to get more stimulus into the economy, and he’s frustrated with the do-nothing Congress,” Trump economic adviser Steven Moore said, the Washington Examiner reported.
One option for helping small businesses would be to reopen the Paycheck Protection Program for new applications, since that process closed in August with more than $130 billion in program funding unspent. Paycheck Protection loans are forgivable for businesses if at least 60% of the funds are spent on employee salaries and all of the funds are spent over a 24-week period.
Another option could be to remove the $150,000 cap on disaster relief funding through the Small Business Administration so that businesses could get the amount of money they actually need to stay afloat.
Trump “frustrated” by Congress
“He’s looking for ideas to get more stimulus into the economy, and he’s frustrated with the do-nothing Congress,” Trump economic adviser Steven Moore said, the Examiner reported.
In a survey taken by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the end of July, more than half of small business owners said they were worried about the possibility of closing permanently. 45% said they were not comfortable with their current cash flow.
While many businesses have reopened after shutting down to try to slow the spread of coronavirus in March and April, some industries like in-person sporting events and concerts are still largely shut down, and others, like restaurants and hair salons, are only allowed to operate in certain areas and at a certain capacity.
Trump has already signed executive orders to suspend payroll taxes, boost state unemployment benefits, slow evictions further, and defer student loan payments to help workers and students coping with the pandemic and its assorted consequences, the Examiner reported.
Trump and other administration officials still want Congress to pass a fifth coronavirus relief bill, according to the Examiner, but Democrats and Republicans could not come to agreement before the August congressional recess.
House Democrats want to spend $3 trillion and continue to pay many unemployed more not to work than to go back to work, among other priorities. Republicans in the Senate have a bill on the table that only spends $1 trillion and refuses to bail out Democrat-run major cities.
A $2 trillion compromise was offered by Democrats, but was rejected by Republican leadership because it was basically a shorter-term version of their larger bill. Both parties are now blaming each other for the failure to come to an agreement on coronavirus aid — while ordinary Americans who are losing their jobs and businesses suffer.