FILE PHOTO: People who lost their jobs wait in line to file for unemployment following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S. April 6, 2020. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A $350 billion emergency U.S. loan program designed to help small businesses keep workers on their payrolls amid the novel coronavirus disruption has run out of funds, the U.S. Small Business Administration said in an email on Thursday.

“The SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding,” the SBA also said on its website on Thursday, adding that as a result it could not enroll new lenders in the program for the time-being.

The Trump administration has been pressing Congress to approve further funding for the program to help small businesses that have been shut down by measures aimed at stemming the spread of the virus. But lawmakers have yet to agree on legislation, as Democrats push to include other provisions in any bill, including requests from small banks to allocate a portion of the funds specifically to them.

Washington-based banking groups this week have written to Congress multiple times calling for lawmakers to end the deadlock, and have asked that lenders be able to continue processing applications so they are ready to disburse the funds once they are approved by Congress.

“Small businesses are continuing to submit loan applications and existing applications are still pending SBA approval,” said Richard Hunt, president and chief executive of the Consumer Bankers Association, in a statement on Thursday.

“The millions of men and women who work at America’s small businesses and their families are battling a health crisis while also facing an economic crisis unless Congress authorizes additional funds for this program.”

Reporting by Michelle Price; Writing by Timothy Ahmann; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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