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Cotton made the comment four days after a $250 billion urgent request to shore up a depleting small business fund failed to pass the Senate after Democrats objected to the measure pushed by the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
With lawmakers home and social distancing, McConnell sought to pass the cash infusion swiftly Thursday by unanimous consent with a skeleton group of senators, but Democrats blocked the effort because they want add-ons to help businesses in disadvantaged communities and an additional $250 billion in funds for other priorities.
The extra funding is being sought amid concerns that the original $350 billion program to help businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic could run dry in the near future in the face of an enormous demand.
McConnell pleaded with Democrats to pass a measure that would change the funding for the program from $350 billion to $600 billion total in a "clean" emergency measure.
But Democrats say they’ve got a better plan, and want additional provisions and protections to help businesses in disadvantaged communities. Their proposal would cost roughly double the Republicans’ and include an additional $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion more for state and local governments as well as increases to food assistance benefits.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said on "Fox & Friends" on Monday that “we're in both a public health disaster, this pandemic, and an economic disaster and we need to address both.”
“Most states, most hospitals are seeing record shortfalls,” he continued. “We should be doing both, providing support for our health systems and our states and providing support for small business.”
Cotton acknowledged that more money for hospitals and state and local governments is needed but stressed that the priority should be on adding money to the small business loan program given the demand.
“We put funding into hospitals and the state and city governments for their responses to this virus just in the same legislation a few weeks ago,” Cotton said, referring to the CARES Act recently passed by Congress. “Unfortunately the only program at risk of running out of money are the small business loans. That's why you heard Senator McConnell say we want to pass a simple bill that simply increases the total limit for the small business loans from 350 to 600 billion.”
Cotton acknowledged that “there is no doubt that our hospitals, our doctors, our nurses may need more money in the future.”
He then noted that the Senate will be back in session on Monday and “those programs are not at risk of running out of money in the meantime the way the small business loans are at risk.”
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.