Congress near deal for stimulus with more PPP for small business (but not individual checks)

Small businesses in the state appear to be in line for another round of forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans — and Gov. Phil Murphy may finally get his long-stated wish for more federal aid.

Statements this weekend from congressional leaders expressed hope that they are close to finalizing a $908 billion stimulus package that also will include additional unemployment benefits. It will not, however, include checks for individuals.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as well as President Donald Trump have given indications that they will support the package.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), part of the bipartisan group of 10 senators pushing for the bill, told CNN on Sunday that the bill could come as early as Monday.

“I think we have got the top line numbers done,” he said on the “State of the Union” program. “We are working right now on language so that we can have — as early as tomorrow — a piece of legislation.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told CNN the bill is about saving the economy over the winter.

“The $908 billion of investment we make into the citizens of this country and trying to keep this economy from collapsing could be more important than $2 trillion would be in February and March if we do nothing,” he said. “And, maybe then, it might be too late for so many people and small businesses.”

Manchin, last Tuesday, tweeted that the proposal would have $288 million for the PPP — but he did not give details on which businesses would qualify.

And while the bill appears to include $180 million for unemployment aid, individual checks for all are not included.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said individual stimulus payments could come further down the line.

“This is not a stimulus bill, it’s a relief bill,” he told Fox News on Sunday.