Senate passes COVID-19 mortgage program extension, offers Home leverage on housing, unemployment

Whether it passes in the House is another matter. Clearly this is something the Senate really wants to happen. They’ve invested hugely in this loan program, for better or worse, and want to keep it alive. That potentially gives House Speaker Pelosi some leverage on other elements of relief. For example, the emergency housing assistance bill the House passed on Monday of this week, which provides emergency financial relief for both renters and homeowners and extends the eviction and foreclosure moratorium from the CARES Act until the end of next March. House experts are predicting a housing “apocalypse” as the coronavirus pandemic rages on while eviction bans all over the country expired as of July 1. At the end of July, the $600/week unemployment insurance bonus also expires, which will mean even more financial pressure for millions of Americans. That’s something else the House could push for in exchange for what the Senate Republicans want: their PPP.

An unexpected pressure point on Senate Republicans just emerged here for House Democrats to exploit, with McConnell apparently taking a back seat on this one. The Senate Republicans are almost irrationally wedded to this program, as problematic as it has been. It would still make far more sense for saving American small business and employee paychecks for Congress to skip the middleman of the banks they’re using here and just directly subsidize payrolls. But that’s not what they decided to do; in fact, they’re still tinkering with the PPP to figure out how to make it more effective, and make sure that it’s truly going to businesses that most need it.

“Obviously we’ll have to be more targeted at truly small businesses and, in addition to that, I’m also developing a program to provide financing for businesses in underserved communities or opportunity zones and other zip codes that would fall in that category,” Rubio said Tuesday about the next round he’s negotiating. “We’re talking to the White House about it,” Rubio continued. “They’ve expressed to us that they have no intent of repurposing that money for something else, but our hope is that we can use that as the sort of foundation for building a second round of assistance in a more targeted way.”

They want this. Pelosi needs to use that, right now. Pass this PPP extension and attach housing assistance and a universal income extension. Use McConnell’s trick of exploiting an expiration deadline against him to help people.

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