House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she wants stipulations in a new small business stimulus package that would focus on businesses owned by women, veterans and minorities.
During an NAACP and BET event, “Unmasked: A COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall Series,” Pelosi said minority-owned and -operated financial institutions that process small business loans must be included.
“We also really need to make sure that all the banks that can participate are able to do so because we’re finding out that if people don’t already have a relationship with banks, they’re being turned away,” she said. “This must not only include banks with a big reputation, but community banks, minority-owned banks, and the rest.”
The most recent $2.3 trillion coronavirus stimulus package included $350 billion to assist the nation’s small-business owners. However, Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues have discovered the process is still leaving out African Americans.
“As the world faces unprecedented times and new realities during this global pandemic, the health and safety of people around the planet, particularly African Americans, are at an unparalleled risk,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “The occasion to uplift and educate our community during this pivotal moment charts a pathway forward through uncertain times.”
Republicans have presented a plan that calls for $500 billion in additional funding for small businesses and corporations. However, Democrats want Black-owned businesses and other minority firms to receive at billions more to assist them during the crisis.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell so far has balked at the proposal.
Pelosi said Democrats aren’t signing off on legislation that would neglect Black-owned businesses. The party wants an interim measure to include $100 billion for hospitals and health systems for rapid coronavirus testing and personal protective equipment, $150 billion for state and local governments, and a 15 percent increase in the maximum food stamp benefit for families.
Democrats also want $125 billion to be specifically for farmers, women, minority, family and veteran-owned businesses and nonprofits and are calling for improvements to ensure banks do not reject small businesses seeking loans.
“The heartbreaking acceleration of the coronavirus crisis demands bold, urgent, and ongoing action from Congress to protect Americans’ lives and livelihoods,” Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “As Democrats have said since day one, Congress must provide additional relief for small businesses and families, building on the strong down-payment made in the bipartisan CARES Act.”
In an editorial in the New York Times, “Race Related: COVID-19 and the Collapse of America’s Welfare State,” Eduardo Porter wrote that people of color were denied access to many of the benefits provided by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
“If they had been given access, Southern Democrats wouldn’t have voted for it,” Porter wrote. “When Lyndon B. Johnson opened America’s welfare state to African Americans and other minorities 30 years later, the political consensus that had set America down the path of social democracy soon collapsed.
“If the safety net had to be shared with people of color, many white Americans decided they would rather not have one at all,” he opined.