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Marco Rubio, small business panel chairman, says loan program improving


WASHINGTON – Sen. Marco Rubio rejects President Donald Trump’s characterization that federal efforts to help small businesses survive the coronavirus crisis have been “flawless,” but the Florida Republican said the situation is improving and Congress should approve at least $200 billion more to meet a continuing “stampede” of demand.

Rubio, who chairs the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, told USA TODAY in an exclusive interview Tuesday that problems with the rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program were to be expected given the sheer scope of the $349 billion loan program administered by a Small Business Administration that usually process one-tenth of that amount annually.

“No one’s ever done one of these before,” Rubio said. “There’s not a banker in America that’s ever given out a PPP loan until Friday. There isn’t anybody at the SBA that’s ever authorized a PPP loan until Friday. This Is not the same as a a pre-existing system that isn’t working well. This is completely brand new and built in six days.”

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 01: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) talks to reporters after the Senate voted on the budget agreement at the U.S. Capitol on August 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Senate passed a two year budget agreement today that lifts the debt ceiling and increases current spending by $320 billion.

 (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775383374 ORIG FILE ID: 1165558201

The former presidential candidate and Trump confidant has not been shy in recent days about criticizing aspects of the program.

He’s called out lenders whom he thought were taking advantage of the crisis and tweeted about the PPP’s bumpy rollout in which banks have struggled to handle a massive surge of applications for forgivable loans aimed at helping small businesses keep workers on staff and pay other bills.



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