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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

2 hours ago - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.