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Treasury Department asks Congress for $250B more for paycheck protection funds

Treasury Department officials confirmed Tuesday they are asking congressional leaders for an additional $250 billion for companies to retain workers as the initial $350 billion allocated by the CARES Act is threatening to dry up after going live four days ago.

In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said members of Congress are working to draft a bill purposing “emergency liquidity” for businesses that are struggling to retain workers amid the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even as the CARES Act continues to come online, one such need is already clear: The small-business Paycheck Protection Program needs more funding,” McConnell said in a statement Tuesday.

McConnell said Congress needs to quickly provide more funding or “this crucial program will run dry.”

“That cannot happen,” McConnell said. “Congress needs to act with speed and total focus to provide more money for this uncontroversial bipartisan program. I will work with [Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer] and hope to approve further funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by unanimous consent or voice vote during the next scheduled Senate session on Thursday.”

The announcement came hours after Senate Democrats unveiled a proposal for a “Heroes Fund.” Democratic members of Congress told reporters on Tuesday the Heroes Fund would amount to a $13 per hour wage increase from the start of the public health emergency until Dec. 31, 2020.

The raise would cap total maximum premium pay at $25,000 for each essential frontline worker earning less than $200,000 per year, and $5,000 for each essential worker earning $200,000 or more per year.

The Heroes Fund would also include a $15,000 premium for companies to recruit and retain essential workers. The Heroes Fund would apply to health care professionals, first responders, personal care and home health workers and grocery store workers.

“We are in a war against COVID-19, and we owe our gratitude to all of the workers who are putting their own health and safety at risk by fighting on the front lines of this pandemic,” Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey said. “The Heroes Fund would provide essential workers with increased compensation and incentivize others to join the fight against COVID-19.”

Justin Henry
Justin Henry is the regional reporter for the Central Penn Business Journal and the Lehigh Valley Business. He can be reached at jhenry@bridgetowermedia.com.

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