Shaheen, Cardin & Schumer Lead Senate COVID-19 Relief Bill to Support Small Businesses

October 21, 2020

**Legislation Nearly Identical to Small Business Provisions in HEROES 2.0 Bill Passed by House on October 1** 

**Senator Shaheen Helped Negotiate the Small Business Relief Programs Established in the CARES Act**

(Washington, D.C.)—U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a senior member of the Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, worked with the Committee’s Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to introduce the HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act—a comprehensive package of measures that would provide over $370 billion of support to the hardest-hit and most vulnerable small businesses, including minority-owned businesses and very small businesses that have been left behind in this pandemic, as well as industries, such as restaurants and live venues. The bill is nearly identical to the small business provisions of HEROES 2.0, which passed the House of Representatives on October 1.

The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Angus King (I-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

“The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program have been lifelines that have kept small businesses across the country from going under but many of these businesses are still struggling and need further help,” said Shaheen. “Revenues are still at unsustainable lows and with infection rates increasing in many communities, for many businesses a second PPP loan or a new EIDL grant can’t come soon enough. This legislation prioritizes smaller businesses, particularly those in hardest-hit industries, and puts in place protections to make sure this money goes to businesses that are truly hurting, not well-connected corporations. Every effort must be made to make sure federal relief reaches small businesses that need help the most and this legislation would be a big step toward that goal.”

The HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act would:

  • Extend and improve the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to better serve small businesses. HEROES 2.0 extends PPP through March 2021; provides a second PPP for the hardest-hit small businesses and nonprofits; expands eligibility to ensure that all nonprofits, regardless of size and type, critical access hospitals, and local news media can participate; simplifies the forgiveness process; repeals the requirement of deducting an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance from the PPP forgiveness amount; and removes limitations that unfairly restrict small businesses owned by formerly incarcerated individuals from securing a PPP loan.
  • Extend and expand the Debt Relief program. HEROES 2.0 extends payments of principal, interest, and fees on all preexisting and new Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a), 504 and microloans for up to a year, with more relief targeted to existing borrowers in underserved markets and the hardest-hit sectors. This debt relief program is also expanded to include SBA’s physical and EIDL disaster loans.
  • Support the smallest, most vulnerable businesses. HEROES 2.0 includes a new $40 billion Lifeline Grant program, of which half is set aside for undeserved businesses, that provides grants of up to $50,000 to vulnerable small businesses that have suffered a significant economic loss and creates a new $15 billion grant program for state and local governments to provide funds to vulnerable small businesses in their communities.
  • Deliver targeted assistance to small businesses in struggling industries. HEROES 2.0 includes the Save our Stages (SOS) Act and the RESTAURANTS Act, which provide dedicated assistance for industries that rely on large gatherings, including restaurants, concert venues, and theaters.
  • Invest in underserved communities. HEROES 2.0 invests in the mission- and community-based lenders that have a demonstrated history of getting capital to minorities, women, and other underserved communities. Specifically, it includes a dedicated $15 billion PPP set-aside for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), and other mission lenders, $1 billion in support for CDFIs, and $13 billion for a new Neighborhood Capital Investment Program to support CDFIs and MDIs, among other key policies to support the work of these lenders in underserved communities.
  • Improve existing small business initiatives. HEROES 2.0 builds on SBA’s core programs, including 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, and the Microloan program, by making them more affordable and useful to small businesses, and provides $1 billion for investment capital to underserved businesses. It also strengthens the accountability and transparency of SBA’s EIDL program and makes other commonsense improvements like removing the Trump Administration’s arbitrary $150,000 cap on EIDL loans.
  • Help minority-owned businesses respond to COVID-19. HEROES 2.0 provides emergency grants to minority business enterprises through the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The legislation also formally and permanently establishes MBDA and gives it the tools to carry out its mission to help minority entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Senator Shaheen helped negotiate the small business relief programs that were established in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law in March. Over $2.5 billion in assistance has been disbursed to more than 24,000 businesses across New Hampshire through the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program. However, many small businesses continue to struggle. Shaheen previously introduced the Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program (P4) Act, legislation that would allow these small businesses to access a second round of PPP loans.

Shaheen also recently introduced three additional pieces of legislation to support small businesses: the Small Business Debt Relief Extension Act, which would extend debt relief for SBA-backed loans through at least February 2021 for all borrowers and further for those particularly hard-hit by the pandemic; the Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act, which would improve programs operated by the SBA to address problems associated with a lack of broadband internet and other emerging information technology resources, and better assist small businesses in accessing and successfully adopting these tools; and the America Labor, Economic competitiveness, Alliances, Democracy and Security (America LEADS) Act, which is Senate Democrats’ proposal for a new U.S.-China policy. The most comprehensive China legislation to date, the America LEADS Act would provide significant new investments to rebuild the U.S. economy and provide our workers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and manufacturers with the skills and support needed to out-compete China and succeed in the twenty-first century.