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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New applications are suspended for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses after its fund ran out Thursday, unless and until congressional Democrats and Republicans settle their differences and pass a $250 billion expansion.

Why it matters: For many small businesses, this moratorium on a key coronavirus stimulus package could prove lethal.

President Trump has repeatedly boasted that PPP has been wildly successful. And he's right, despite the many glitches that he's loathe to acknowledge.

  • The CARES Act wasn't even law at this time three weeks ago. Standing up and executing such a massive program, which involved over 1.5 million small businesses and around 5,000 lenders, in such a short amount of time is an extraordinary accomplishment.

It's also true that there have been inequities.

  • Some small businesses were at a disadvantage if they picked "the wrong" bank, or didn't have the right relationship with that bank.
  • Small businesses with in-house finance or accounting professionals likely had a leg up. Same goes for ones with savvy institutional investors, depending on what their lawyers told them about affiliation rules, and that will engender understandable bitterness from bootstrapped mom-and-pops.
  • If there's still $250 billion of demand, that means there are well over 1 million small businesses in need (based on the initial pot's average loan size).

Congress is playing chicken with people's livelihoods.

  • Congressional Democrats have a strong case that more funding is needed for hospitals and state/local governments, and that congressional Republicans are being improperly intransigent on tying those monies to PPP+.
  • But now they're letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and it's bound to cause widespread pain.

The bottom line: If that $250 billion doesn't materialize by Monday, then PPP may be remembered as much for those it left behind as for those it helped.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Alabama's new congressional map rejected by federal judges

The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Federal judges on Monday night blocked Alabama's newly drawn congressional map and ordered the Republican-led State Legislature to create a new one that includes two districts, rather than the planned one.

Why it matters: "Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress," the panel of three judges wrote in their ruling.

Australian Open organizers reverse "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirt ban

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai during the 2020 Australian Open in Melbourne. Photo: Bai Xue/Xinhua via Getty Images

Australian Open organizers on Tuesday reversed a ban on t-shirts supporting Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai following widespread criticism.

Why it matters: Tennis Australia's announcement came less than 24 hours after the governing body defended the decision to ask fans last Friday to remove "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirts, citing ticket policy prohibiting political clothing, per the BBC.