(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today introduced legislation to provide grants to hard-hit small businesses that can demonstrate substantial losses in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will establish the Hard-Hit Small Business Relief Fund, which would transfer the remaining funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) COVID-19 relief programs—approximately $6 billion—to make grants to eligible small businesses as defined by the SBA.

“Our communities have regained a hard-earned sense of normalcy after the worst of COVID-19, but for many small businesses, the nightmare continues,” Cardin said. “American small businesses are still struggling under unsustainable debt, ongoing supply chain delays, and workforce challenges that inhibit their ability to operate and grow their businesses. The Hard-Hit Small Business Relief Fund Act would make the approximately $6 billion in unused federal COVID-19 small business aid available to the small businesses that need help the most.”

While the bill grants the SBA the authority to define eligibility, the bill clarifies that sole proprietorships, independent contractors, self-employed individuals and tribally-owned small businesses are eligible. The bill also requires the SBA to track and report all grants publicly and establish an auditing process to ensure that the program is administered transparently.