(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Senate Democratic leaders today announced a new targeted relief proposal to help communities and individuals deal with the public health-related economic challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak.
The leaders’ proposal is based on input from Governors, policy experts, state and local officials, and small businesses about what is needed to help workers, their families, their businesses and the communities they live in to manage the economic disruption and services crisis at the local level in both the near-term and short-term due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The proposal includes a first-ever SBA disaster grant program for eligible small business recipients to help cover the cost of lost business, providing paid sick leave, among other potential economic hardships incurred due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Ranking Member Cardin said during the press conference, “Our first priority is to deal with the medical challenges, and that’s clearly where we have placed our priority. But when we deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus … We want [small businesses] to be able to qualify for direct grants from the SBA so they can remain in business and continue to provide the innovation and job growth and economic activity to our nation.”
In addition to Cardin, the proposal was announced by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Vice-Chair, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA).
A copy of the complete COVID-19 economic and community services proposal can be found here. A complete transcript of Ranking Member Cardin’s remarks follows:
Let me first thank Senator Schumer for establishing the right priorities for us dealing with the coronavirus.
Our first priority is to deal with the medical challenges, and that’s clearly where we have placed our priority.
But when we deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus let me talk a moment about small businesses and what’s happening with small businesses.
In my state of Maryland the announcements have been made about our colleges are going to close for a longer period of time. I look at the small businesses on Route 1 though college park Maryland and know that many of these businesses depend upon the college family being there in order to stay open.
I look at Charles Village in Baltimore City where Johns Hopkins is located. They’re closing their dorms in regards to the next several weeks. That’s going to effect the viability of those small businesses.
I think about what’s happening in the tourism industry in my state and around the nation. About Conventions that are being cancelled, all that’s going to effect a lot of small businesses that depend upon that business and cannot survive without having that type of economic activity.
I was pleased to see that we were able to get into the supplemental, the first supplemental appropriations emergency supplemental appropriations bill. The qualifications that that small businesses will qualify for disaster relief direct loans by the Small Business Administration. That’s good news and we provided some resources for the SBA handle that.
Well here’s the challenge, small businesses do not have the information on what qualifies for that disaster relief. We’ve got to get that information out there. So one of our proposals will be to provide the resources to the resource partners. Women’s Business Centers, SBDCs –Small Business Development Centers, so that they can get information out to how you can qualify for these disaster relief direct loans.
We also want to help in regards to the capital that these businesses need, the cash flow that they need in order to stay in business. We are going to have to change the rules in regard to the major programs under SBA on their loan program, the 7a program, the 504, the community advantage programs. Make them more assessable and less costly, waiving the fees so that business can get these loans that can qualify.
And then lastly, if your bottom line has been dramatically changed you are not going to qualify for a loan because you don’t have the resources to re-pay those loans. So we want to have direct grants to small businesses and we are defining these as small businesses. We are not talking about the big companies, we are talking about those ma and pa type businesses that won’t be there tomorrow. Where we have innovation and job creation and job growth.
We want [small businesses] to be able to qualify for direct grants from the SBA so they can remain in business, continue to provide the innovation and job growth and economic activity to our nation.
That’s the type of programs we are going to be recommending and I look forward to working with all my colleges to see that we can take these issues up as quickly as possible.