As part of the U.S. Senate leadership’s $1 trillion stimulus plan to help the nation respond to coronavirus, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is pushing $300 billion in aid for small businesses.
Rubio, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, teamed up with U.S. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who leads the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, to introduce the “Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act” which they defined as a “$300 billion small business emergency economic relief plan that will help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic make payroll and cover expenses.”
Rubio weighed in on how the proposal will help the economy cope with the coronavirus threat.
“The economic uncertainty and potential global impact we are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic are unprecedented,” Rubio said. “America’s more than 30 million small businesses — and the 59.9 million individuals they employ — today face the prospect of going bankrupt. They face this threat due to no fault of their own, but because of a global pandemic that takes human lives and grinds productivity to a halt. The Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act is the best path forward to help businesses and their employees endure this catastrophic disruption. Congress must set aside our normal procedural and partisan games to act without delay.”
“Every day, I am hearing from small businesses in my state that are on the verge of going under as a consequence of the coronavirus. The plan that Senator Rubio and I have authored would help make sure that businesses that were thriving before the pandemic as well as their employees are able to make it through this crisis,” Collins said. “In the last three days in the state of Maine, there were more claims for unemployment compensation than all of March last year. That shows that businesses are already feeling the cash-flow problems, seeing declining revenues, losing customers, and being forced to lay off their employees. That is why we feel so strongly that we must act and we must act immediately. I believe that we can come together to address this urgent problem.”
“We are going to have to pay what it costs to contain this disease,” Alexander said. “And one effective way to do this is to help small businesses faced with closing to stay open and keep Americans on their payroll.”
The bill “provides cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency” which will be forgiven if small businesses maintain their payrolls. It would also allow 7(a) loans to “permit payroll support, including paid sick leave, supply chain disruptions, employee salaries, mortgage payments, and other debt obligations to provide immediate access to capital for small businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.” The bill also sends $240 million in grants for SBA Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers to help small businesses hit by COVID-19
The National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (NAAGL) and the National Small Business Association (NSBA) quickly threw their support behind the proposal.
“Small businesses and their employees are suffering — now,” said Tony Wilkinson, the president and CEO of the NAGGL. “Congress needs to take swift action to provide additional assistance through proven programs like the SBA 7(a) program where SBA has a decades-old partnership with thousands of private sector lenders that are located across the country. These banks are ready to start getting to work on keeping our small business community supported.”
“Maintaining small-business cash-flow and liquidity will be key to enabling successful small businesses to get to the other side of this crisis,” Todd McCracken, the president and CEO of NSBA, said. “Time is of the essence — small businesses need help NOW, and I believe that SBA is ready and fully equipped to get this critically important program off the ground quickly. But Congress must act soon.
“I implore lawmakers to look not only at what happens the first two weeks, but what happens two and three months down the road: an employee may get paid leave off for two weeks, but have no job at all when things finally normalize,” McCracken added. “Most small businesses exist on very narrow margins and simply don’t have the scope necessary to float the business indefinitely. Any package enacted into law must recognize that reality and provide meaningful relief.”
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