CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Small Business Administration put the paycheck protection loan program for small businesses on hold Thursday after reaching the $349 billion lending limit.
The decision creates more uncertainty for many small businesses in the Mountain State facing massive losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You’re going to see, I fear, small pop operations that have not been as well supported in this program closing their doors and we fear they won’t reopen,” National Federation of Independent Businesses state director Gil White said Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
White said Congress needs quickly provide more money for paycheck protection.
“Our hope and our request at this point is that our Congressional leaders will once and for all put America’s small businesses at the top of his priority and put their political disagreements to the side,” White said.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said Thursday he would support another $250 billion for the program with a couple of changes including a set-aside for small businesses in rural states like West Virginia and funding for small rural hospitals that are struggling during the pandemic.
“Small rural states rank from 40th to 50th on how the money has been dispersed,” Manchin said on “Talkline.” “A small set aside for rural states would be wonderful.”
Manchin blames Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell for playing politics with the money. President Donald Trump blamed Democrats in a Thursday afternoon tweet.
“They are killing American small businesses. Stop playing politics Dems! Support Refilling PPP NOW – it is out of funds!” Trump tweeted.
Democrats are blocking additional funding for the popular Paycheck Protection Program. They are killing American small businesses. Stop playing politics Dems! Support Refilling PPP NOW – it is out of funds!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2020
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito said in a Thursday tweet the entire situation could have been avoided.
“This situation could have been completely avoided. Small businesses in America are in desperate need. We should not be playing politics and denying small businesses the help they need. Congress MUST fund #PPP.”
This situation could have been completely avoided. Small businesses in America are in desperate need. We should not be playing politics and denying small businesses the help they need. Congress MUST fund #PPP. https://t.co/qI15VIBSig
— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) April 16, 2020
White said if the politics continue small businesses will close.
“And the bad thing is once these businesses close I don’t think there’s going to be someone to reopen in their place,” White said.
As of April 13, loans had been approved for 5,211 West Virginia businesses with 500 or fewer employees for a total of $1.054 billion. White said unfortunately that’s about half of what’s needed.
“Our numbers are basically about 50 percent have been able to start the process so that obviously tells you there’s another 50 percent that have not. That’s why this is so time sensitive and important,” White said.
He said it appears the larger small businesses with between 100-500 employees had the resources to get to the banks quicker than smaller businesses with just a few employees.
“The access has been there but it’s been first-come, first-served,” White said.
Gil White, State Director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, talks with @HoppyKercheval about the PPP running out of money. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/VqhaUsEuAg
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) April 16, 2020
More than 55 banks and credit unions in West Virginia have been participating. White said some are continuing to process loan applications even through the program is out of money.
Manchin said he doesn’t believe Congressional leaders will allow the program to fail. He predicted there would be additional money by the first of next week. It will have to be done by unanimous consent because the Senate isn’t set to return to Washington until May 4.
“I’m fine with that if the 250 ($250 billion) would go out right now–just make some tweaks, some commonsense tweaks because it’s not working,” Manchin said. “That shouldn’t be a heavy lift for Mitch (McConnell) or anybody else.”