(CNSNews.com) - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday backed President Trump's request to add another $250 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, which forgives loans made to small businesses if they keep paying their employees during the coronavirus shutdown.
"To my Democratic colleagues, please, please do not block emergency aid you do not even oppose, just because you want something more," McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.
"Nobody believes this is the Senate's last word on Covid-19. We don't have to do everything right now...We cannot play games in this crisis."
But the bill stalled because Democrats want more than what Republicans are offering.
McConnell noted that much of the recently passed CARES Act is still being implemented, while the Paycheck Protection Program is "up and running."
Just a few days after the program opened for business, $100 billion in loans had already been committed. That's 30 percent of the total funding spoken for in just the first few days. I would say that's very good news. It means this job-saving program is attractive to small businesses. Employers can access it. But it also means we need more funding, and we need it fast.
Soon, I will ask unanimous consent to increase the funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to a new total of $600 billion. I'm not talking about changing any policy language that both sides have already negotiated together several weeks ago. I'm literally talking about deleting the number 350 and writing 600 in its place...That's all we are suggesting here today.
McConnell said he was "surprised" to see such a "clean bill" greeted uneasily by Democrat leaders:
"The Democratic leadership has suggested they may hold Americans' paychecks hostage unless we pass another sweeping bill that spends half-a-trillion dollars doubling down on a number of parts of the CARES Act, including parts that have not even started to work yet. The country cannot afford unnecessary wrangling or political maneuvering."
McConnell said the only two options for passing a bill right now is by unanimous consent or a voice vote. And he said "everyone knows" that there is "zero chance" of passing the Democrats' "sprawling proposal" by unanimous consent.
Following McConnell to the podium, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said the unanimous consent request to add $250B to paycheck protection "is basically a political stunt because it will not address the immediate need of small businesses."
Cardin said the Paycheck Protection Program is "working very well" and has not run out of money yet. "But there are programs under the CARES Act that have run out of money," he said.
He noted that Democrats want more money for those programs, as well as more money for health care issues and state and local governments.