Politics

Senate Dems Block Small Business Relief Funding, Seek Billions for Local Media

Senate Democrats are pushing for a proposal that might send as much as $10 billion to local media outlets as part of a fourth CCP virus relief package, while blocking additional rescue funding for small businesses.

“For over a decade, there has been a steady succession of local outlets closing down, reporters being laid off, production schedules cut, and resources tightened as the growth of social media and technology platforms has concentrated critical advertising revenue in the hands of a few,” states an April 8 letter from 19 mostly Democratic senators, to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The letter was also addressed to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Vice Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The letter didnt specify an amount of funding to be provided to local media outlets but referenced proposals from three media trade groups that are seeking $5 billion to $10 billion in such assistance.

“Reliable local news and information has been critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet it has become more scarce,” the letter said.

“Any future stimulus package must contain funding to support this important industry at such a critical time. Such a provision should be tailored to benefit aid recipients who make a long-term commitment to high-quality local news.”

The signers of the letter were led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). The others are Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sen. Angus King (I-Maine, who caucuses with Democrats), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

At the same time, the letter seeking public funding for local media was circulated April 8, Senate Republicans were angrily challenging Democrats to stop blocking a measure that would add $250 billion to the $349 billion under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses in the just-passed $2 trillion CCP virus relief package.

“We are seeing a rate of $3.5 billion an hour on a nearly $350 billion program. We have days, not weeks, until PPP runs out of money,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement on April 8. Rubio is chairman of the chambers Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

“Todays unemployment numbers remind us that now is not the time for congressional horse-trading or partisan politics. Small businesses are being forced to lay off employees and close their doors. I really hope my Democratic colleagues will reconsider their decision to block more money for PPP,” Rubio said.

Similarly, Sen. John Cornyn (D-Texas) issued a statement saying: “The Democrats insistence on holding this relief hostage for extraneous funding that isnt needed is unfathomable. Coronavirus relief is no place for partisan politics, but Senator Schumer just cant help himself.

“Allowing this fund to run dry and letting countless small businesses fail would be one of the most unconscionable things Senator Schumer and Democrats could do.”

The proposal to provide federal dollars for local media organizations is certain to run into objections that the money would actually be aiding large media conglomerates that own or otherwise control the vast majority of news outlets, including those that were once predominantly owned by local interests.

“Ownership of the countrys daily newspapers was concentrated among the largest 10 companies. Altogether, the largest 10 companies owned 1,500 papers, including almost half—572—of the countrys 1,283 dailies,” according to a 2018 report by the Hussman School of Journalism at the University Read More – Source
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The Epoch Times

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