VIDEO RELEASE: On Senate Floor, Shaheen Highlights Struggling NH Small Businesses & Urges Passage of PPP Reform Legislation
**Shaheen raises the importance of this legislation to address the urgent needs of The Little Grill, which has locations in Littleton and Woodsville, Portsmouth Brewery and Big Dave’s Bagels and Deli in North Conway**
Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship (SBC), joined Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to urge the Senate to take action and pass the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which provides improvements and fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Senators sought to pass this legislation through the Senate through unanimous consent, but were blocked by Senate Republicans. Shaheen was a lead negotiator of the small business relief programs in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including PPP, and is a lead cosponsor of Senate companion legislation.
Shaheen’s remarks can be viewed here.
During her remarks, Shaheen noted that while the PPP has been a lifeline for small businesses in New Hampshire, with over $2.5 billion in assistance disbursed to more than 22,000 businesses across the state, she has heard firsthand from Granite State small businesses on the need for improvements and fixes to ensure the program operates as intended and assists small businesses. “Businesses like The Little Grill, a New Hampshire restaurant with locations in Littleton and Woodsville. They said that the PPP has been a lifesaver but they have only two weeks remaining on their forgivable term… we’ve heard from the Portsmouth Brewery, which received their PPP loan and want to rehire their 28 employees, but they need more flexibility and extensions to the program to resume operations.” And then of course, we’ve heard from Big Dave’s Bagels and Deli in North Conway. His 32-year-old bakery was predominantly take out before the pandemic, but he was able to keep his employees on and offer hazard pay because his approval for the PPP loan came through at the very end of April. Now he needs flexibility in loan terms if he’s going to keep his employees on the payroll.”
The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act would increase the cap on the amount of a PPP loan that can be used for non-payroll expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments or utilities, increasing the payback period for a PPP loan from 2 years to 5 years, and extending the period available for small businesses to spend their PPP funds from 8 weeks to 24 weeks, giving them additional time to recover. Shaheen continued by noting how this legislation would alleviate many concerns raised by small business owners, but that there is a continued need for Congress to provide additional relief, “This legislation addresses the concerns that people have expressed. I think we also need to provide additional funding, or additional help over the next month until things open back up in the economy.”
Shaheen concluded, “I hope we’re going to see our colleagues pass it by unanimous consent so that there is some certainty for those businesses as they try and open back up in this very difficult environment.”
Earlier in the day, Shaheen questioned witnesses during a SBC hearing and called for reforms to the Paycheck Protection Program and accountability from the Trump administration, including much needed data on the implementation of small business relief programs. The SBC hearing reviewed the impacts of COVID-19 on American small businesses and actions the Senate should take to alleviate them.
That exchange can be viewed here.
Shaheen questions Association for Enterprise Opportunity President & CEO Connie Evans during the SBA hearing
Shaheen has worked to improve implementation and oversight of small business relief programs. In the Senate, Shaheen introduced companion legislation for the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which provides improved flexibility to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to ensure funding assistance reaches small businesses that need it most. In May, Shaheen released a statement demanding testimony from Trump administration officials on the implementation of these programs following the release of a Small Business Administration Inspector General report on Friday that shows the Trump administration didn’t strictly adhere to the guidance in the CARES Act when implementing small business relief programs. Senator Shaheen 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. Shaheen unveiled the Transparency and Oversight of COVID-19 Small Business Recover Assistance Act to provide greater transparency and oversight of the Trump administration’s implementation of the PPP and EIDL grant program. The Senators sought to pass this legislation through the Senate through unanimous consent, but were blocked by Senate Republicans.