WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The U.S. House voted Thursday to expand the Paycheck Protection Program which gives loans to small businesses impacted by the pandemic but the program is increasingly controversial.
The first round of loans were given to large corporations instead of small businesses and some lawmakers are concerned about political bias when deciding which businesses get loans.
Congress is making an additional $310 billion available in loans to small businesses. Colorado Congressman Jason Crow said lawmakers are doing all they can to help as the U.S. unemployment rate surpasses 20%.
“The package is one that we absolutely need,” he said. “We’re still in triage mode—we’re just trying to stop the bleeding.”
Republicans like Oregon Congressman Greg Walden said the PPP should have been expanded sooner.
“For too long Democrat leaders in the House and Senate played partisan politics,” Walden said.
But Democrats are concerned about how the program is operating. Congresswoman Susie Lee said Nevada is among the most economically-devastated states in the country.
“But yet when we saw the PPP program implemented into our state, we ranked near the bottom in terms of accessing those loans,” Lee said.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) said California, Washington, New York and New Jersey have among the highest number of COVID-19 cases. But those states have some of the lowest percentages of approved loans. Speier pointed out all four states are also among the most liberal in the country.
“Is there political bias going on here? I don’t know but it needs to be investigated,” she said.
The Trump administration said the loans are processed on a first come, first serve basis.