Trump Admin Urges Congress to 'Immediately' Vote on PPP Bill, Criticizing 'All-or-Nothing Approach'

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent a letter to Congress on Sunday, urging Republican and Democratic lawmakers to "immediately" move forward with legislation to allow the government to spend unused funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was approved as part of the CARES Act in March.

The letter from the Trump administration officials came amid ongoing negotiations over another round of economic stimulus to address the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mnuchin and Meadows are spearheading those talks on behalf of the White House. Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over a range of funding priorities as well as the overall price tag of a new stimulus package.

"Now is the time for us to come together and immediately vote on a bill to allow us to spend the unused Paycheck Protection Program funds while we continue to work toward a comprehensive package," Mnuchin and Meadows wrote in the final paragraph of the one-page letter.

"The all-or-nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people," they added.

Steven Mnuchin and Mark Meadows
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speak to members of the press after a meeting at the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) at the Capitol on August 7 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty

The two officials attempted to place the bulk of the blame for the impasse in negotiations on Democrats, who control the House of Representatives. While they noted that Democrats have passed two proposed stimulus packages through the House, they characterized these as "partisan bills" that failed to compromise.

Newsweek reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, for comment, but her office did not respond by the time of publication.

Lawmakers are largely in agreement over the effectiveness of the PPP funding, which provides businesses with forgivable loans to be used to keep employees on payroll, despite the lockdowns and economic fallout of the pandemic. Under the existing law, the program has already expired, although funds remain unused.

As a result, firms that have already benefited from the program—but now again face budget shortfalls—are unable to apply for additional loans. Mnuchin and Meadows are asking for legislation to change this, allowing for the companies to apply again without requiring Congress to allocate additional money.

At the same time, negotiations over another round of economic stimulus continue. The White House has come up significantly from its original offer of about $1 trillion for a stimulus package. On Friday, Mnuchin put forward a $1.8 trillion package. But that still falls short of the more than $3 trillion Democrats in the House approved in March and the compromise of $2.2 trillion they passed at the beginning of October. Republicans and Democrats have expressed skepticism that a deal will be reached in the short term, as GOP lawmakers remain concerned about the high price tag and Democrats continue to ask for significant compromises from the White House.

But Larry Kudlow, director of the president's National Economic Council, suggested on Sunday morning that a deal was still possible. "I don't think it's dead at all," Kudlow told CNN. He suggested that if an agreement is made between the White House and Democrats, then Republicans "will go along with it."