House Republicans will try to force vote to restart small business loan program

  • House Republicans will attempt to force a vote on a bill to reopen applications for remaining Paycheck Protection Program funds. 
  • It may not find approval in the Democratic-held House, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushes for a comprehensive relief plan. 
  • Members of both major parties have grown increasingly agitated as Congress struggles to break a pandemic aid stalemate ahead of the 2020 election.

House Republicans will attempt to quickly force a vote on a bill to replenish a key coronavirus small business aid program, according to congressional aides. 

The GOP lawmakers on Wednesday will unveil a two-part proposal designed to restart the Paycheck Protection Program. Reps. Steve Chabot of Ohio and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington plan to introduce proposals to reopen applications for the $138 billion that remains unspent from the small business loan program, along with a so-called discharge petition to force a vote on the bill. 

Under the legislation, companies could apply for a second loan if they have fewer than 300 employees and have seen revenue decline by 25%. The GOP is expected to be able to start gathering signatures on the petition next Friday, and would need 218 to move toward a vote. If all 198 Republicans support the move, the party would need 20 Democrats to join. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has repeatedly said the chamber will only take up a comprehensive coronavirus relief package. Democratic leaders have previously rejected efforts to renew standalone relief policies such as unemployment insurance as they push for legislation that would cost at least $2.2 trillion. 

The Republican maneuver underscores the growing agitation among members of both major parties to approve more pandemic aid ahead of the 2020 election. GOP senators vulnerable in November have pushed to pass more relief, while House Democrats running in competitive races have reportedly grown increasingly impatient with Pelosi's strategy. 

Coronavirus stimulus talks between the Trump administration and Democratic leaders effectively fell apart last month and have made little progress since. However, President Donald Trump urged Republicans to support a more ambitious stimulus package on Wednesday. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also said he has grown more optimistic about a deal in recent days. 

On Tuesday, the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus put forward a $1.5 trillion plan, which Democratic leaders opposed. 

Last week, Senate Democrats blocked a roughly $500 billion Republican relief plan that Democrats called inadequate to address economic and health-care crises.

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