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Shaheen, Cardin & Coons Announce Legislation to Get Capital to Small Businesses Hardest Hit by COVID-19

**New Bill Will Help Small Businesses Most At-Risk of Permanently Closing**

(Washington, D.C.)— U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chris Coons (D-DE), all senior members of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, today announced their intention to introduce the Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program (P4) Act. The bill authorizes new lending under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to small businesses with 100 employees or less, including sole proprietorships and self-employed individuals. Eligible businesses must have already expended an initial PPP loan, or be on pace to exhaust the funding, and must demonstrate a revenue loss of 50 percent or more due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even as our economy begins to recover, small businesses have a long way to go before they’re back on their feet,” said Shaheen. “A second installment of PPP funding is the lifeline many businesses need to get them to the other side of this crisis while keeping employees on payroll. This legislation prioritizes smaller businesses, particularly those in the restaurant and hospitality industries, which have been hit especially hard in recent months. Every effort must be made to make sure federal relief reaches small businesses that need help the most and this legislation is a vital next step towards that goal.”

The COVID-19 recession has affected all industries, especially the arts, entertainment, and recreation industries, which lost half its workforce between February and April of this year; nearly half of all restaurant workers lost their jobs over the same period. PPP, which has provided more than 4.5 million businesses and nonprofits with more than $511 billion in loans, has prevented even further losses in these hard-hit industries, with restaurant hires accounting for 1.4 million of the 2.5 million jobs added to the economy last month.

The bill follows a “flash report” released by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Inspector General last month, which found that SBA’s failure to issue guidance to prioritize underserved and rural markets in PPP “did not fully align” with the Congressional intent of the CARES Act.

To ensure that underserved and hardest-hit businesses can access P4 loans, publicly traded companies are ineligible for the loans; hospitality and lodging businesses with multiple locations are limited to an aggregate loan amount of $2 million; and the bill would reserve the lesser of $25 billion or 20 percent of PPP funds for employers with 10 or fewer employees, as well as small businesses in underserved and rural communities. The bill also directs SBA to issue guidance to give priority to businesses with 10 employees or fewer in the processing and disbursement of P4 loans, and requires SBA to request demographic information of P4 loan recipients.  

Additionally, the P4 Act would:

  • provide eligible small businesses with as much as 250 percent of monthly payroll costs worth up to $2 million;  
  • prevent affiliated businesses with separate locations from receiving more than $2 million in aggregate P4 loans; and
  • allow P4 recipients to apply for forgiveness of their loans 8 weeks after the loans have been disbursed.