Small business leaders urge Congress to pass standalone COVID-19 relief package

Small business leaders urge Congress to pass standalone COVID-19 relief package

The Small Business Roundtable has penned a letter to congressional leadership on behalf of 30 million small businesses urging the federal government to pass a standalone package for a new round of stimulus to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter notes that small businesses are “on the brink of recovery and continuing to struggle to survive” due to liquidity challenges for those who have yet to reopen or who are limited by capacity restrictions and other critical health and safety protocols to protect the public, consumers, and employees from COVID-19.

“While we acknowledge the unprecedented support and resources that were directed to small businesses earlier this spring, more must be done and we write today to urge that same swift, bipartisan leadership on a standalone small business relief package that will assist the most fragile small businesses and their employees,” the organization wrote.

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Small business leaders are asking for legislation that would allow a second draw from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as well as expedited PPP loan forgiveness and full tax deductibility for PPP recipients.

The organization is also asking Congress to eliminate caps and increase funding for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and to ensure tax exempt organizations, such as 501(c)6 trade and destination marketing organizations, chambers of commerce, and quasi-governmental structures are given access to the federal aid program.

In addition, the letter asks for increased federal loan guarantees and maximum loan sizes, reduced fees, increased funding for Community Development Financial Institutions, and forgiveness for costs associated with personal protective equipement, technology and cloud based services, and businesses physically damaged during the pandemic.

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While the roundtable acknowledged that negotiations over more coronavirus relief will likely continue through the fall, they stressed that immediate passage of these “small and low-to-no-cost measures means thousands of small businesses will make it to the holidays.”

“Unless Congress provides additional relief this month, business failures in the next several months will skyrocket as it will be impossible for additional measures to come online until well after the election or perhaps even into early 2021,” the SBR warned.

Although the Small Business Roundtable added that there is “no doubt that a larger package is needed,” they pointed out that Congress has an opportunity to “pass immediate legislation that would make a meaningful difference at effectively no cost to the taxpayer.”

“We can think of no reason why these elements of support — with bipartisan, bicameral support — could not be passed in the coming days,” the roundtable’s letter concluded. “Thank you for your understanding and appreciation of our concerns during this critical time.”

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The letter comes on the heels of new data from Yelp which finds that 60% of businesses that were shuttered in March during the coronavirus will remain closed for good.

As many as 97,966 businesses on the platform have closed permanently between March 1 and Aug. 31, according to the crowdsourced review site’s September Local Economic Impact Report, which tracks changes in business hours or descriptions on its app.

On Yelp’s platform alone, 163,735 businesses have experienced shutdowns in the same five-month period.

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House Republicans are pushing to reopen the Paycheck Protection Program and utilize its remaining funds amid gridlock on Capitol Hill over a package for a new round of stimulus.

The Paycheck Protection Program has roughly $138 billion in funding left that was allocated under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed back in March.

The $670 billion program, which provided more than 5 million small businesses with a one-time cash injection to pay workers and rent, preserving some 51 million jobs, closed to new applicants on Aug. 8.

While there is widespread bipartisan support to repurpose the additional funds from the PPP, Congress remains in a standoff over a new stimulus package, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refusing to consider any legislation unless it’s worth at least $2.2 trillion.

Under new proposed legislation from Reps. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, and Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., small businesses could apply for a second PPP loan if they have fewer than 300 workers and have seen their gross revenue plummet by at least 25% as a result of the virus-induced crisis. The bill would also set aside $25 billion for small businesses with fewer than 10 workers.

Businesses would have until Dec. 31 to apply for the loans.

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Fox Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report. 

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