Shaheen, Risch Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Facilitate Disaster Assistance for Rural Small Businesses

May 13, 2021

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Jim Risch (R-ID), senior members of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, reintroduced the Disaster Assistance for Rural Small Businesses Act. Their bipartisan legislation would allow rural communities to more easily access emergency relief in the wake of a natural disaster. U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is also a cosponsor of the bill.

Under current law, bureaucratic roadblocks prevent small businesses and homeowners in rural communities from accessing Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance following a natural disaster. This legislation creates a waiver at no cost to taxpayers, allowing rural communities to more readily access and secure SBA disaster assistance in the case of a presidentially-declared disaster.

“Our small businesses face enough obstacles, especially today as they’re working to put the COVID-19 crisis behind us. The last thing they should have to worry about when a disaster strikes is if they’ll be able to access the relief they need when they’re most vulnerable,” said Shaheen. “That’s why I’m glad to reintroduce this bipartisan, commonsense legislation with Senator Risch that will help address these bureaucratic barriers and ensure emergency resources are available to rural Granite State business owners when they need it most.”

“Under the current system, disaster victims in rural communities have experienced significant delays in relief funding brought on by bureaucratic red tape. This bipartisan legislation aims to fix that,” said Risch. “The Disaster Assistance for Rural Small Businesses act will expand critical resources for rural small businesses affected by natural disasters.”

“In the wake of a natural disaster, rural communities and small businesses must be able to access resources to help them rebuild and get back on their feet as soon as possible,” Hassan said. “This bipartisan bill would help eliminate unnecessary roadblocks so that more rural communities can quickly access the disaster relief that they need.”

Additional cosponsors of the bill include Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and John Kennedy (R-LA). The legislation is also being introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Jared Golden (D-ME) and Jim Hagedorn (R-MN).

The text of the bill can be read here.

Shaheen has worked to provide small businesses with the resources they need to weather and recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. She helped lead negotiations on provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law last March to assist small businesses and established the Paycheck Protection Program and expanded the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program in the CARES Act. Both of these programs have been lifelines for businesses throughout New Hampshire and the country. To date, over 40,000 New Hampshire small businesses and non-profits have received over $3.6 billion in PPP assistance. Last month, President Biden signed into law the PPP Extension Act of 2021, legislation authored by Senators Shaheen, Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) to help small employers retain access to forgivable PPP loans.