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Sen. Mike Lee says Democrats’ ‘greed’ causes businesses to suffer amid pandemic

Utah Sen. Mike Lee Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee blamed Democrats’ “greed” for blocking a Republican push to infuse another $250 billion into a loan program for small businesses struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

“What the Democrats did yesterday on the Senate floor was unconscionable,” the Utah Republican said Friday in a Facebook post.

Senate Democrats objected Thursday to putting more money in the Payroll Protection Program created by the $2.2 trillion relief package Congress passed without more funding for hospitals, state and local governments as well as federal food aid families can claim during the crisis.

Lawmakers initially approved $350 billion for partly or fully forgivable loans to help companies meet expenses such as payroll, rent and utilities.

Lee said Democrats were asking last week to extend the program by hundreds of billions of dollars.

“But now when given the chance to help small businesses and enact the policy they supported just last week, suddenly they have a whole new list of demands for new spending items completely unrelated to this program,” he said.

“They got greedy and now American small businesses, American small-business employees, and the American people are going to suffer because of Democratic greed.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took to the floor Thursday, urging Democrats to support the measure for additional fund. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said McConnell knew it wouldn’t pass and called his attempt a “political stunt.”

“It’s very clear that there was collusion among the Democrats on what the message should be,” Lee said in an interview on Fox News.

McConnell said last week that it’s quickly becoming clear that Congress will need to provide more funding the Payroll Protection Program or it could run dry, and that cannot happen.

As of Thursday, nearly 500,000 loans valued at more than $130 billion had been approved nationwide, according to the Small Business Administration. The SBA has directed its regional offices to not publicly release numbers for individual states.

But Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tweeted Wednesday that 3,489 Utah companies have received nearly $719 million through the program. He said he will keep pushing for additional support for small businesses.