Sen. Marco Rubio said small businesses throughout the country should look at whether a coronavirus package helps them make payroll.
“The only thing you have to do is verify your payroll,” Rubio told nearly 5,000 business owners tuned into a webinar Tuesday.
The Florida Republican and other lawmakers touted the Paycheck Protection Program, which devoted $349 billion to help small businesses cover checks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Knowing quarantines and closedowns in the U.S. deeply impacted small businesses, this has developed in way that the plan had to get much bigger,” Rubio said.
The webinar, sponsored by the American Business Immigration Coalition, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and other business groups, stressed even businesses reliant on contract employees qualify.
The coronavirus rescue bill includes $10 billion for emergency grants to small businesses worth up to $10,000, as well as $17 billion to cover six months worth of Small Business Administration loans already provided to business owners.
But the Paycheck Protection Program provides substantial funding so that employees can be paid right now.
That funding can be used by companies with 500 employees or less. It can cover payroll for sole proprietors and independent contractors. Tribal businesses that meet SBA criteria can also use the program, as can veterans organizations within the size restrictions.
Webinar hosts stressed that the “loans” through the program were 100%-backed by the federal government, so they can be completely forgiven and treated effectively as grants. The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities, with at least three quarters going to payroll.
Funding can cover a period spanning as far back as Feb. 15 and until June 30, if businesses show they have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Rubio said the only requirement for businesses will be to verify the legitimacy of their own payroll. But the program is designed so companies can participate through the lenders at their community banks, so that verification process should be relatively seamless and painless.
John Rowe, co-chair for ABIC, credited Rubio in particular for making sure businesses with undocumented workers can still participate.
“Rubio is my kind of Republican,” Rowe said. “He believes in fiscal discipline, he believes in people of all colors and wants to make this economy work for everybody.”
Rubio appeared on the same webinar as Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Dick Durbin of Illinois, who both worked closely on the legislation.
Durbin noted he and Rubio served together in the Gang of Eight on immigration reform years ago.