The $359 billion Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses during the coronavirus crisis went broke in less than two weeks. Congress is working on a $350 billion plan to inject more money into the program. Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver tells Kansas City Public Radio he knew there was not enough money put into the program. Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, says based on the 2008 economic collapse, he and many of his fellow House members knew the coronavirus funding “was just going to be a pittance in terms of the need.”

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City (September 2018 file photo courtesy of Congressman Cleaver’s office)

“What’s happening is that small businesses in rural communities, and in the urban core and in communities where the small businesses just don’t have a strong relationship with a bank, we found that they were left out,” says Cleaver. “The money was designed for small businesses essentially but we found out that many of the small businesses have not been able to get the money. And we have had over 70,000 – 70,000 individuals who have gone after the money.”

He disagrees with Missouri U.S. Senator Josh Hawley’s proposal that would make the federal government pay for 80% of worker wages during the COVID-19 emergency. Cleaver says the priorities of Democrats are helping small businesses, hospitals, local governments and maintaining records of minorities getting the loans.

“Look, I’d like for everybody to get a check and get all the they need. But right now, I think we’ve got to take care of the small businesses,” says Cleaver. “Hospitals in general need to have more money.”

He says another coronavirus stimulus package for about $2 trillion is expected around June.

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