Shaheen Introduces Legislation to Provide Second Round of Relief to Small Businesses Hardest Hit by COVID-19

June 18, 2020

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

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Small Business Committee, introduced 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. The bill would extend the application deadline for initial PPP loans from June 30 to December 30, or longer, at the discretion of the Small Business Administration (SBA), and would use existing PPP funding to make P4 loans.

“PPP has been the lifeline that has kept many small businesses from going under,” said Shaheen. “Yet, revenues for many small businesses are still at unsustainable lows and a second loan is needed as soon as possible. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has been an existential threat to our nation’s small businesses and Congress cannot letup in its efforts to get them get through this crisis. 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 4.6 million businesses and nonprofits with more than $513 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 and PPP loans, and requires SBA to request demographic information of P4 and PPP 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 maximum flexibility to apply for loan forgiveness as soon as 8 weeks after the loan disbursement.

Senator Shaheen has worked tirelessly to address the administration’s flawed implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and small business assistance programs to ensure help reaches those who need it most. Last week, Shaheen questioned U.S. Treasury Department Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza during an SBC hearing on the Trump administration’s implementation of small business relief programs that were established in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Shaheen helped negotiate with Senators Rubio (R-FL), Cardin (D-MD) and Collins (R-ME). Shaheen pushed for the passage and signing into law of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which provides necessary reforms to the PPP to ensure funding assistance reaches small businesses that need it most. She has hosted calls with small businesses and non-profits that have successfully accessed these programs and those that have been unable to access them. She also called on the Trump administration to provide late guidance to small businesses, that’s mandated by law, regarding PPP loan forgiveness. She joined with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) in calling on the administration to reverse its policy of limiting Economic Disaster Loan Program relief to $150,000 and to reopen the program to non-farm applicants. In May, Shaheen unveiled the Transparency and Oversight of COVID-19 Small Business Recover Assistance Act to ensure accountability for the Trump administration’s implementation of the PPP and EIDL grant programs. The Senators sought to pass this legislation through the Senate through unanimous consent, but were blocked by Senate Republicans. Last month, Shaheen and the congressional delegation called on the U.S. Department of Treasury to make adjustments to the PPP so that it can more effectively serve the needs of Granite State small businesses.