U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who chairs the Senate Small Business Committee, has been among the leading proponents of the Paycheck Protection Program, which is poised for an extension and other changes delayed thus far.
On Fox and Friends Tuesday morning, Rubio didn’t frame the delay as a setback.
Rather, he saw the bright side of a temporary pause in the action, even after warning last week that if action wasn’t taken by Memorial Day, it might be too late for some businesses.
Rubio noted that while many places are opening at 25% or 50% capacity, their overhead cost is still 100%.
“It’s been smart to take a pause to make sure whatever we come up with works,” Rubio said Tuesday.
A number of bills are in play regarding the $511 billion of PPP loans already doled out by the Small Business Administration, of which $138 billion remains to be dispersed.
Many businesses are nearing the end of the eight-week loan term, even as economies struggle to reopen after the March pandemic-driven economic shutdown.
Legislation Rubio is championing that would extend the window for businesses to spend the money from eight weeks to 16 weeks, as The Hill notes, was not passed before the Memorial Day weekend.
The Senator has gone on record saying he thought there was near-unanimous support for extending the term to 16 weeks.
A clean bill extending the length of PPP loans would have “99 or 98” votes, he said last Wednesday. But he wondered if Democrats could keep it clean.
“We have the votes to do it, but the only issue now is can we do it without other things being added to it that keep it from getting passed,” Rubio said.
The relief package passed last week in the Democratic House included the extension Rubio wanted, amidst a host of dealbreaker conditions for the Republican Senate that have made the legislation “dead on arrival,” according to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.