Small business owners are bristling over a congressional proposal that would redirect unspent money from COVID-19 programs to provide $10 billion for the federal government’s pandemic health response, including vaccines and therapeutics, The Wall Street Journal reports..
At issue is about $5 billion that Congress allocated for three small-business aid programs but which hasn’t yet been spent. Some lawmakers want to repurpose those existing funds for health care, rather than allocate new money, because they are increasingly focused on reining in the federal deficit and spending amid a surge in inflation.
The debate underscores the struggle to fulfill requests made by the Biden administration to address pandemic needs, while also accommodating Republican demands to not spend new money. Lawmakers have been forced to make difficult choices about where to pull funding, including from broadly backed causes such as supporting small businesses.
The proposal to redirect the funding is “not in alignment with the professed need of small businesses and the professed desire on both sides of the aisle to help small businesses,” says John Arensmeyer, chief executive of the Small Business Majority, an advocacy group.
Small businesses are facing many challenges, including navigating supply-chain bottlenecks and high prices.
Congress is set to continue debating the COVID-19 funding measure when it returns from recess later this month. The White House, in March, requested Congress supply $22.5 billion for pandemic-related health needs. Republicans balked at appropriating any new spending. Instead, Senate lawmakers earlier this month negotiated a bipartisan deal that relies on repurposing unused funds to provide $10 billion. Read the full story here.