The $2 trillion rescue deal the U.S. Senate is expected to approve this week includes $377 billion in aid for small businesses that agree to keep up payroll in the coronavirus-crippled economy, a measure Florida’s Republican Sen. Marco Rubio helped fashion.
Rubio and Maryland’s Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, led efforts to create the small business portion of the coronavirus economic bailout bill. The Keeping American Works Paid and Employed Act focuses on providing money for small businesses to meet their payrolls and expenses, and to receive other assistance throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“The unprecedented crisis facing our nation’s small businesses and their employees requires an immediate, bold response,” Rubio stated in a news release issued by the committee. “I am confident that we have assembled a bipartisan emergency relief package that will get cash to small businesses, and the Americans they employ, that desperately need it during this pandemic.”
The release also extended credit to Maine’s Republican Sen. Susan Collins and New Hampshire’s Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
“American small businesses are facing an existential threat. The unprecedented public health measures cities and states have taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, while necessary to protect public health, are having a tremendous impact on small businesses in every community in America,” Cardin wrote in the release. “Congress has a duty to ensure that America’s 30 million small businesses, and the 60 million people they employ, are not forced to bear the financial costs of keeping our communities safe on their own.”
Among the small business provisions:
— Creates the Paycheck Protection Program, a nearly $350 billion program to provide eight weeks of cash-flow assistance to small businesses through 100% federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans would be forgiven.
— The program can cover payroll costs, paid sick leave, supply chain disruptions, employee salaries, health insurance premiums, mortgage payments, and other debt obligations to provide immediate access to capital for small businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.
— Provides $265 million for grants to SBA resource partners to offer counseling, training, and related assistance to small businesses affected by COVID-19.
— Allows for expedited access to capital by establishing a $10 billion program for small businesses who have applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, to request an advance of up to $10,000 on the loan to provide paid sick leave to employees, maintain payroll, and other debt obligations.
— Requires the Small Business Administration to pay all principal, interest and fees on all new and existing SBA loan products for 6 months, and provides $17 billion for this purpose.