U.S. small business lending program in coronavirus relief package exhausted
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WASHINGTON-- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) said on Thursday that its lending program for small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic has run out of money.

"The SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding," the agency said on its website.

The Paycheck Protection Program, a key piece of the 2-trillion-U.S. dollar coronavirus relief package passed by Congress three weeks ago, is a loan designed to provide incentives for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll during the outbreak.

"We've been hearing from our members, every day, worried the $349 billion lending program would run dry before help gets to them. Today, their worries became a reality," Brad Close, president of the National Federation of Independent Business, said Thursday in a statement.

"We urge congressional leaders to prioritize America's small businesses above their political disagreements and immediately provide additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program," he said.

The small business funds exhausted its funding, as Republicans and Democrats struggled to agree on how to replenish the relief program.

"One week ago, on this floor, I warned that the Paycheck Protection Program was running out of money and tried to pass a clean funding bill. Senate Democrats blocked it," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday on the Senate floor.

"This morning, the program ran out of money and shut down...But even now, Senate Democrats are still blocking funding," McConnell said. "I hope our colleagues will come around soon."

Democrats have also blamed Republicans for the impasse, accusing them of refusing to negotiate over their demands for more relief to hospitals and state and local budgets.

"We do not have disagreement about wanting to help small businesses. They would like to say that, but they know that isn't true," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday at her weekly press conference.

"We hope the Administration will recognize those needs and not deprive state and local, as well as hospitals, as well as small businesses, of every opportunity to meet the needs of the people we serve," she said.

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