Democrats rush to pass Biden's $1.9T stimulus bill

Yahoo FInance's Jessica Smith joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down the latest stimulus news as democrats ruzh to pass Biden's $1.9T stimulus bill.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: Let's head to DC for the latest on the stimulus negotiations, a step forward for Biden's economic relief bill. We had the House Budget Committee meeting today. Let's get to Jessica Smith with the latest on where things stand. Jess.

JESSICA SMITH: Yeah, Seana, the House Budget Committee did advance the relief bill 19 to 16. One Democrat actually voted against the package, but a spokesperson said that that was an error. It was a mix-up with the virtual hearing, and he actually does support the legislation. The bill will now go on to the House Rules Committee before it goes to the full House. The full House is expected to vote on this as soon as Friday or Saturday.

Now, Democrats are not expecting any Republican help to get this bill across the finish line. Republicans have said over and over again that they think this relief bill should be much more targeted. President Biden spoke about the plan and addressed some of the Republican criticism earlier today. Let's watch.

JOE BIDEN: It deals with the immediate crisis facing our small businesses. Now critics say the plan is too big. Let me ask the rhetorical question. What would you have me cut? What would you leave out? The American Rescue Plan targets $50 billion to support the hardest hit small businesses after this program expires at the end of March. Would you not help invest in them? Would you let them continue to go under? Would you leave them out again, like the previous administration did?

JESSICA SMITH: Now part of that relief bill is $7 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program. The Biden administration did announce several changes to that program today. The goal is to make sure the money is going toward underserved communities and the smallest of small businesses.

So some of the changes-- first, starting on Wednesday, only businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be able to apply for PPP loans for 14 days. Larger businesses will be blocked out for this two-week period. But the administration says that there still will be time for those larger businesses to apply before the program expires at the end of March. Banks say they doubt how much of an impact this move will actually make.

The administration is also changing the eligibility rules to make sure sole proprietors, self-employed people, contractors are able to receive more money from the program. And the next change would eliminate restrictions that currently keep people who are behind on their federal student loans or who have non-fraud felony convictions from qualifying for PPP loans. And finally, the administration will ensure that non-citizens who are lawful US residents can access the program.

The SBA says of the $285 billion that was allocated for this latest round, $140 billion has already been approved. That's 1.9 million loans for small businesses with an average loan size of $73,000. Adam and Seana, most of the loans approved this year are for businesses coming back for that second loan that is now allowed in the program.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Real quick on another subject, other than Ted Cruz taking time from his eating crow mea culpa tour to ask Merrick Garland some questions at the confirmation hearing, were there any surprises during the hearing?

JESSICA SMITH: Yeah, I don't know about how many surprises we had there. That was one big hearing that is happening today. It's really a critical week for nominees for the Biden administration. We'll also have one for the US trade rep later this week, several others.

We're also hearing a lot about the OMB nomination, Neera Tanden. You've had several Republican senators come out today and say they would not support her nomination, so that looks like it is pretty rocky. We know Joe Manchin has said that he would not support her. So at this point, the Biden team is trying to see if they have those votes necessary to get her confirmed. It's looking pretty rocky at this point, but that's going to be something that we watch this week.