Still, Collins is sticking with Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in an ongoing clash with Democrats over putting more money into the Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion fund for small businesses that is expected to run out of funding soon. McConnell has tried to move a $250 billion cash infusion for the Paycheck Protection Program, but Democrats have blocked it in a bid to get $250 billion for states and hospitals as wekk. McConnell in turn blocked their effort.
Collins, who is often in the middle of bipartisan negotiations, said Democrats’ requests to carve out money for underbanked employers is worth accommodating and more money should be made available for the dwindling Economic Injury Disaster Loan fund as part of the debate over the Paycheck Protection Program. But she said the program is so popular in Maine and nationwide that it should be the focus of the next interim bill and that hospital and local government funds requested by Democrats should be negotiated in May when the Senate is scheduled to return.
“We are going to deplete the $349 billion, and we’ve essentially already depleted the funding for the EIDL program,” Collins said. “All these programs are important, but if you look at where the urgency is, it seems to me it’s in replenishing these two programs.”
But she did break from one part of the GOP’s hard-line stance: an ongoing discussion about whether to make Democrats object to the $250 billion for small businesses as soon as Thursday, when the Senate’s next pro forma session is scheduled.
“I’m not sure that that advances the ball. But I suspect that there are more talks going on than may be evident,” she said of discussions between McConnell and Democratic leaders.