Senator Ben Cardin, (D) Maryland joins Yahoo Finance’s Jessica Smith and the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss the Georgia senate races as well as the Stimulus and PPP outlook.
ZACK GUZMAN: Next, though, I want to turn to the national implications because, of course, this was for two seats in the state of Georgia, but much more to be discussed on the national stage here with our next guest. Maryland Senator Ben Cardin joins us right now alongside Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith as well. And Senator Cardin, I mean, obviously this is historic for the state of Georgia. I don't want to take anything away there.
But as we turn to the national implications, we know they were much larger. President-elect Joe Biden on the campaign trail was stressing just a few days ago that a Democratic sweep would mean upped stimulus checks for many Americans, more stimulus coming for hurting businesses. So what is the one win and potentially two in the state of Georgia-- for the country, what does it mean in your eyes, Senator?
BEN CARDIN: Well, with two Democratic wins in Georgia, it means that the control of the Senate will rest with the Democrats. That means that the agenda, what comes to the Senate floor will be determined by the majority leader, which would be Chuck Schumer. The committee chairs would be Democrats.
And what this means is that we are going to reach out to try to deal with the problems of the American people. We need to do that with bipartisan cooperation. We need support from both Democrats and Republicans. We had that, for example, on a $2,000 direct-payment stimulus check, but the Republican leader wouldn't bring that to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
So now we'll be able to have votes on important issues, and hopefully with cooperation from both Democrats and Republicans, we're going to be able to deal with COVID-19 and getting our economy back on track, build back better. There's a lot that we can do together, and I expect you'll see that as the priority not only of the Biden administration but also of the Senate Democrats.
AKIKO FUJITA: And Senator, Democrats may be on board with bipartisanship, talking about reaching out to the other side, but we've got a rally going on right now. We're hearing from President Trump saying that he will never concede the race. He believes there should be another recount. How does the Democratic Party, even with control of Congress, govern when you've got a big chunk of the country that still doesn't believe that Joe Biden's win was a legitimate one?
BEN CARDIN: Well, it really points out the irresponsible role of leaders in saying things just that are not true about this election. They have instilled in too many people in this country that there was something wrong with the November 3 election. Leaders need to lead.
We know what President Trump's going to do. He's been doing this for four years. He's going to say things that aren't true. He's going to lie to the American public. It's all about him. It's not about our Constitution or our country.
We now know to expect that, although it always disappoints [INAUDIBLE]. What really is disappointing, when we see other leaders that take the president's side knowing it is wrong. Today that's going to come to an end. At the joint session of Congress, we're going to accept the results of the election. On January 20, Joe Biden will take the oath of office as president of the United States, and I hope that we'll see Democrats and Republicans recognizing that we have a responsibility to the people of this country. Let us help America get through this COVID-19. Let's help rebuild our nation. Let's create jobs and opportunity for the people of this country.
JESSICA SMITH: Hi, Senator. Jessica Smith here. If there is indeed a 50-50 split in the Senate, how does President-elect Biden navigate this when, really, one senator has veto power?
BEN CARDIN: Jessica, you're asking the right question. Joe Biden's a seasoned legislator. He served in the United States Senate, served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee as well as the Foreign Relations Committee. He knows how to work across party lines. I expect that before we have votes on the floor of the United States Senate, we're going to have legislation and policies that are developed through that type of consultation and bipartisan process so that by the time we reach the floor of the Senate, we have adequate support in order to move this agenda forward.
That's going to be the challenge for the Biden administration. We recognize that individual senators can hold things up. Individual senators cannot stop things from happening if we have enough support from other Republicans to make this happen, and that's what we're going to be attempting to do.
ZACK GUZMAN: And, Senator, obviously one of the big key aspects of stimulus here has been on the push and the fight that you've been leading in terms of the Paycheck Protection Program and giving support to struggling businesses. Through that, though, we saw some interesting exceptions to the rule, mainly religious institutions getting taxpayer through some of this relief as well. We're talking about billions of dollars at a federal level, including the state of Maryland. You can point to millions of dollars going to churches here. And people have been pointing out about maybe some of the problems there when you think about nontaxpaying institutions receiving taxpayer dollars.
What do you think is going into that decision? How does it play out? And where do you see this potential fight around maybe more stringent use of taxpayer dollars if Republicans are now going to be focusing on maybe reasons to cut back on using that stimulus now?
BEN CARDIN: Well, the reason why we were so successful in the original CARES act of providing help to small businesses and now in the most recent package providing a second round of help to small businesses is that the policies were developed in a bipartisan manner. Senator Rubio, the Republican chair-- I'm the ranking Democrat. The two of us worked together across party lines to develop a program. It wasn't everything I wanted or everything he wanted, but at the end of the day, we got substantial help out to small businesses and saved small businesses.
You mentioned nonprofits or church groups. They're businesses. They employ workers. We wanted to preserve workers in this country. We wanted to preserve our small businesses, whether they are for profit or not for profit, and we were successful in doing that.
Can we fine tune that and make that even more effective? We think we have in this most recent round where we require that there be a significant revenue loss as a result of COVID-19 in order to get help.
So we are continuing to fine tune this. We want to get the help particularly to the underbanked, underserved communities, and we think we have corrected it on this most recent round.
AKIKO FUJITA: On that front, Senator, there is-- there are a lot of expectations, if you look at the market reaction today, that the $900 billion package really just is the beginning-- if Democrats can regain control of the Senate, that there is another big stimulus package waiting on the other end. I know you've been focused on that help to small- and medium-sized businesses, how big are Democrats thinking right now as you look to this upcoming-- or as you look ahead to a potentially newer stimulus package?
BEN CARDIN: Well, the number-one priority is to get COVID-19 under control. We had an administration under President Trump that has failed and failed to have a policy to tell the American public the truth about COVID-19. They did not have a policy dealing with testing. They didn't have a policy dealing with protective equipment, and they certainly have not had a policy dealing with the distribution of the vaccine.
The first thing we're going to do is make sure there's adequate resources to keep Americans safe from COVID-19, including the distribution of the vaccine. And, yes, I expect that Congress will work with the Biden administration to make that a reality as quickly as possible.
But we also have American families that are suffering. We wanted larger help through direct payments. I expect we'll revisit that issue and provide additional assistance to those families that have suffered under COVID-19. And we will rebuild our economy in a fair manner, recognizing that many businesses have been hurt and many jobs have been lost as a result of COVID-19.
JESSICA SMITH: Senator, do you expect the new rules for PPP to come out from SBA today, and when do you expect the window for applications to actually open?
BEN CARDIN: We're in discussions with the administration today. We do expect regulations to come out very, very soon, and we expect the window for the next round of PPP to be open within a matter of days. So we are anticipating that there will be an announcement made very shortly as to when PPP loans will be accepted.
ZACK GUZMAN: All right, Senator Ben Cardin from the state of Maryland. Appreciate you taking the time to join us alongside Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith there. Be well, Senator.
BEN CARDIN: Thank you. Stay well.