Small business owners are not happy about a new proposal in Congress to redirect unspent money from COVID-19 programs to give $10 billion for various services like vaccines and therapeutics, a report Monday (April 18) from The Wall Street Journal said.
The report said part of the problem is the $5 billion which Congress allocated for several small business aid programs, which hasn’t been spent.
Some lawmakers want to repurpose the money for healthcare instead of allocating new money, focused more on constraining the federal deficit in the midst of the current concerns about inflation.
WSJ wrote that the debate concerns the struggle to fulfill requests made by the Biden administration to address the pandemic as well as accommodate the demands not to spend any new money.
Lawmakers have had to make some difficult choices regarding where to pull funding, including from various initiatives like supporting small businesses, which are more broadly supported.
The WSJ report noted the myriad challenges of small businesses in this time, such as navigating supply chain bottlenecks and higher prices. While there’s been a recovery since the earlier days of the pandemic, the optimism among smaller businesses was down in March, with concerns about inflation rising.
Congress will reportedly keep debating COVID-19 funding when it returns from a recess later in April.
The White House in March requested Congress supply $22.5 billion for pandemic health needs, which was met with revulsion by Republicans not trying to spend anything else. They eventually settled on a bipartisan deal to repurpose unused funds to give $10 billion, the report said.
Lawmakers decided on the size of the deal after considering what offsets of the unused funds had been acceptable to both parties.
See more: Visa: Omicron’s Spending Impact Less Than Past Variants
PYMNTS wrote that the omicron variant had something less of an impact on the U.S. spending compared to other stages of the outbreak, according to Visa’s U.S. Spending Momentum Index tracking consumer health spending.
The January report said the index was at 102.4, indicating a strengthening of consumer spending.