Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Wells Fargo reiterated Monday night that it will not open up its small business Paycheck Protection Program loans to companies with more than 50 employees, despite an announcement from the Fed that it would set up a facility to buy the loans from banks.

Why it matters: Wells Fargo's announcement shows that even with a Fed backstop one of the country's largest banks will still not be participating in a program designed to help businesses on the verge of collapse because of the coronavirus outbreak.

  • The Fed's facility is designed take the loans off of banks' balance sheets, freeing them up to provide loans to more firms.

Background: Because of restrictions placed on Wells Fargo after its fake accounts scandal, the bank has told customers it must turn away struggling small business customers, as Axios' Courtenay Brown noted.

  • Customers were left wondering why the bank didn't signal its lending limitations sooner, since it has been operating under the asset cap since 2018.
  • Wells Fargo declined to comment on that or the Fed's program.

What we're hearing: The faulty rollout and bank issues associated with PPP have put the futures of companies and employees in serious jeopardy as many were counting on the program to survive the next couple months.

  • Joe Shamie, CEO of furniture manufacturer Delta Children, told Axios he has "held up [his] end of the bargain" and kept employees on payroll, even as he's had to dip into his own savings.
  • However, if he's not able to access government funding through the program soon he's not sure what comes next.

The big picture: The $350 billion government-backed program, a key part of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, the CARES Act, has been plagued by problems since even before it launched on Friday.

  • Banks say they are still unable to access Small Business Administration platforms, and businesses consistently report issues accessing application forms.
  • The SBA loan processing platform crashed and was down for hours on Monday, preventing lenders from processing any loans, Bloomberg reported.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes. A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.

Biden to Trump: "I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life"

Former VP Joe Biden pushed back Thursday against allegations from President Trump, saying he had never profited from foreign sources. "Nothing was unethical," Biden told debate moderator Kristen Welker about his son Hunter's work in Ukraine while he was vice president.

Why it matters: Earlier on Thursday, Hunter Biden's former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, released a statement saying Joe Biden's claims that he never discussed overseas business dealings with his son were "false."

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