Ms. Pelosi said Tuesday she supported providing additional funding but didn't commit to seeking quick approval without additional conditions. The speaker is scheduled to hold a conference call with House Democrats and Vice President Mike Pence at 1 p.m. Wednesday.Under the Democrats' proposal Wednesday, half of the small business assistance — or $125 billion — would be channeled through community-based financial institutions that serve farmers, family, women, minority and veteran-owned companies.
Businesses have rushed to tap the $350 billion loan program that was part of the massive $2.2 trillion stimulus passed by Congress in response to the economic crisis spawned by the coronavirus pandemic.
Stay-at-home orders across the country have particularly squeezed small businesses, which account for almost half of U.S. private employment.
Absent from their request Wednesday were provisions that Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi had previously called for in a follow-up stimulus package to the record $2.2 trillion plan passed in March.
In addition to an extension of the PPP program, Ms. Pelosi also proposed including an extension of the expanded unemployment insurance and more direct payments to individuals. She has estimated the bill would cost at least $1 trillion.
Republicans have thus far been reluctant to enact a wide-ranging phase four stimulus bill. Now that they and their core business supporters such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are demanding an infusion for PPP, Democrats could have leverage to obtain more unemployment insurance and direct payment for workers.
Ms. Pelosi would have to weigh such an opportunity against the political costs of delaying aid to small businesses.
While there is support among Senate Democrats for expanding the Paycheck Protection Program's funds, they want assurances that the pool of lenders in the program is broad enough that small businesses aren't subjected to biases based on sex, race or other factors, according to a Senate Democratic aide. The aide added that community banks, microlenders and other sources should supplement the efforts of major banks.
A single lawmaker in either chamber could thwart plans for a quick vote. Two weeks ago, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., drew the ire of his congressional colleagues by forcing many of them to return to Washington to vote personally on the $2 trillion stimulus bill, rather than allow a lightly attended voice vote-procedure for its passage.
Mr. Massie's office did not immediately respond Tuesday to questions about whether he might again attempt to force a quorum of his colleagues to return to Washington should Ms. Pelosi schedule a vote. And at least one other House member, independent Justin Amash of Michigan, has been tweeting his dissatisfaction with the PPP program as now set up by Mr. Mnuchin.
Mr. Schumer separately unveiled his own plan Tuesday for a next stimulus package. It would include a massive "Heroes Fund" to give hazard pay of up to $25,000 each for workers including grocery store employees, transit workers and pharmacists who are risking their lives to stay on the job amid the coronavirus outbreak. It is also likely to have a price tag in the hundreds of billions of dollars.