CONGRESSMAN JIM HIMES

Representing the 4th District of Connecticut

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Rep. Himes Statement on negotiations to provide additional support to American families, workers, and small businesses

April 21, 2020
Press Release

Bridgeport, CT – Today Congressman Himes released the following statement on the ongoing negotiations to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program and provide additional support to American families, workers, and small businesses:

As the House and Senate approach a deal that will refill the funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), tensions are running high. While our nation struggles with the largest crisis in modern history, it’s easy to use the negotiations over PPP to attack whichever party or person or position we don’t share.  This mindset is counterproductive and leads us to believe the worst of each other. In all situations, I strive to treat everyone, whether I agree with them or not, as though they are coming from a place of good faith.  Impugning each other’s motives is the easy way out.  Listening with sincere earnestness to our opponents to achieve the common good is the more difficult, but essential, path.

The PPP ran out of money on Thursday. The President and Senate Majority Leader McConnell asked for $250 billion more. This is a reasonable request.  I and others wanted more, which is also reasonable. A significant portion of the original $350 billion went to well-connected businesses with strong banking relationships and lawyers. It was hard for smaller businesses – and almost impossible for really small businesses without banking relationships – to secure loans. Democrats wanted to make changes to the program to give these businesses a shot, as well as provide money to hospitals and state and local governments to mitigate the burdens they’re facing.  Republicans preferred a stand-alone expansion of the PPP program.

None of that is wildly unreasonable.  Nobody (in this situation) is being stupid, awful, or greedy. There’s a negotiation going on. Right now. I hope and expect it will be resolved today.

Some have pushed back on the Democrats’ position. Why not just say yes to the PPP money now and fund hospitals and states later? This is a fair question. The answer is that hospitals and health centers are getting absolutely crushed right now, with many at risk of going insolvent, and Democrats believe this may be the only chance to save them.  In other words, there may not be a “later.”

Can this process be frustratingly slow? Yes. Our system, particularly when government is divided, is designed to create this kind of deliberate compromise. We come from very different places and have different pressures. And yet we must somehow meet in the middle and get the business of the American people done. 

I’ve been telling leaders of both parties that these rescue bills can’t contain items that aren’t timely, targeted, and temporary. Ideological paralysis is not an option.  I’m only one of 535 voices in Congress, but I know I am not alone in that assessment. 

That’s where we are.  Those who require a bad guy or clash between good and evil in order to understand politics will be disappointed when faced with the reality of the situation.  Instead, they’ll find the conflict and compromise that inevitably rises from differing political ideologies struggling to find a solution to an unprecedented challenge.  The result will not be perfect, and many will wish it looked different, but it will undoubtedly help those who are in dire need of assistance.  And, when all is said and done, isn’t that the whole point?