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LIers tell Schumer that federal stimulus aid needs to come faster

Sen. Charles Schumer details what the next federal

Sen. Charles Schumer details what the next federal package should include to help small businesses and answers questions live with LIA president and CEO Kevin Law.

Long Islanders told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that they need money now to survive the coronavirus pandemic as he took questions about his negotiations on an interim emergency spending bill during a Long Island Association-Newsday webinar Friday.

The New York Democrat outlined priorities for an interim bill that’s under negotiation between Democrats and Republicans and said Congress likely will pass another major relief bill in May and an infrastructure stimulus bill after that. But questioners said they need money now.

“It’s great to focus on longer term and midterm stuff, but the biggest concern they had now was they need cash in their pockets today to help just survive for the next couple of weeks,” said Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association and the webinar’s moderator.

“And they think that should be the focus, a primary focus, of your negotiations in Washington — to help them with cash today,” Law said, who summarized the questions.

“I've heard this from one end of New York to the other,” said Schumer. “That's why we're working so hard to get the more money for … this interim bill we're discussing right now, and also to improve it, so that the money gets out faster, and to many more people, some, many of whom were excluded.”

Several questioners asked about the paycheck protection program, created by the $2 trillion coronavirus relief act, which offers small businesses forgivable loans if they keep their employees on the payroll for eight weeks.

Law said Adam Brook, who has a small company in Ronkonkoma, complained that the program’s application process takes too long, that he needs the loan money more quickly and that he heard the program already has run out of money.

And Melissa and Sherry, Law said, said they’ve heard smaller companies like theirs have been shut out of that program. Long Island has about 100,000 small businesses and 90 percent of them have 20 or fewer employees, Law said.

Republicans have criticized Schumer for blocking a measure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brought to the Senate floor on April 9 to add $250 billion to the paycheck protection program, which has used up its initial $350 billion.

Schumer said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about their demand to also add $100 billion more for health care — including $30 billion for a federal testing program to aid in reopening the economy and extra pay for front-line workers — and $150 billion to help state and local governments.

“What we're trying to do now is a speed the process up and make it easier for the banks to approve things and get the money to you more quickly,” he said, and to require some money goes to smaller institutions “having more trouble than the bigger institutions” getting loans.

Schumer said on Morning Joe on MSNBC that the negotiations over the interim package will continue this weekend. 

“We’re making good progress,” he told the webinar. “I’m hopeful we can come to a resolution of that soon.”

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