President Donald Trump on Saturday said that he will "immediately" seek more funding from Congress if the employee retention programs included in the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill run out of money.
"This is money that's really going directly to the people who need it, the small businesses who need it, and the workers that need it," Trump said during a White House briefing on COVID-19. "When we open, we want to open strong with businesses that are going."
The legislation signed late last month allocated $350 billion for a loan program for businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Businesses can apply to have the portion of the up-to-$10 million loans used on payroll forgiven.
Demand for the loans over the coming weeks is expected to be enormous.
Bank of America, the first major lender to open a web portal to administer the program, said that 85,000 customers applied for more than $22 billion in loans on Friday, the first day the portal was available. It updated the figures in a post on Twitter on Saturday: $27 billion in loan applications from 122,000 clients.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wrote in a post on Twitter on Friday afternoon that the Small Business Administration had already processed $1.8 billion, "mostly all from community banks."
The surge in loan applications has worried some small businesses that the pool of money could run out, though administration officials have sought to tamp down on concerns.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said that he will ask Congress for more money if existing funds run out. Earlier Saturday, Trump tweeted he would do so as well, and praised community banks and Bank of America for their quick work to date.
Trump on Saturday also doubled down on his proposal for new tax deductions for businesses for spending on restaurants, and suggested they should also apply to sporting events.
"They'll send their executives, they'll send people there, they'll get a deduction," Trump said.
Earlier in the day, the president spoke with executives from the major sports leagues.