WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) joined his colleagues to introduce the HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act, a comprehensive legislative package that would provide over $370 billion of support to the hardest-hit, most vulnerable small businesses, including minority-owned businesses and small businesses that have been left behind by earlier relief efforts. The bill closely mirrors legislation passed by the House of Representatives on October 1. Today’s introduction continues Senator King’s effort to improve the Paycheck Protection Program’s (PPP) work for Maine’s small businesses in light of changing economic conditions; earlier this year, his legislation to improve the PPP passed the Senate unanimously and was signed into law, providing businesses with additional flexibility as the pandemic continued to spread across the nation.
“In the face of a crisis this severe, Congress must always be ready to adapt our approach to best serve the American people,” said Senator King. “This legislation does exactly that – taking the pandemic’s lessons into account to create a bill that will help those who need it most. This bill will focus relief efforts on small, underserved businesses which missed out on the PPP’s early rounds while major corporations received bailouts. Critically, the legislation will provide unique relief for industries that rely on large gatherings, including restaurants, concert venues, and theaters. Additionally, the legislation will expand non-profits’ eligibility for relief funds, enabling these organizations to continue serving our vulnerable citizens during this time. This legislation’s provisions already have passed the House of Representatives, and I hope that this bill will receive consideration on the Senate floor immediately so Congress can deliver much-needed aid as soon as possible.”
Through a number of conversations with Maine small businesses and their employees, Senator King has determined that our nation requires comprehensive small business relief such as that included in today’s legislation and that the House of Representatives already has passed. In recognition of that reality, Senator King voted today not to pass a bill that would narrowly re-authorize the PPP. Instead, he strongly supports the solutions passed by the House and included in the HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act, including:
- Extending the Small Business Debt Relief program. Senator King backed the Small Business Debt Relief Extension Act, in which would provide continued coronavirus emergency debt relief distributed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) into 2021. This provision would extend debt relief through February 2021 for all borrowers, and includes language to provide an additional seven months of debt relief for highly vulnerable businesses. He initially cosponsored the Small Business Debt Relief Act, which was passed into law as a part of the CARES Act in March.
- Expanding nonprofit eligibility for the PPP. Charitable nonprofits have been essential partners in the fight against coronavirus and its economic effects, and Senator King has led bipartisan efforts for the inclusion of aid for charitable nonprofits in coronavirus relief legislation.
- Including support for concert, theatre, and preforming venues. The bill authorizes $15 billion for the SBA to make grants to eligible live venue operators, or promoters, theatrical producers, motion picture theatre operators, or talent representatives to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain live venues. These provisions are part of the Save Our Stages Act, which Senator King cosponsored in September.
- Supporting restaurants, bars, and food trucks. Senator King cosponsored the RESTAURANTS Act in early September, which would establish a $120 billion program administered by the Treasury Department to provide vital funding to restaurants and similar places of businesses – such as food trucks and bars. These funds would go to payroll and other eligible expenses, and would need to be used by June 30, 2021.
- Expanding local news organization eligibility for the PPP. This bill expands PPP loan eligibility to small, local affiliate news broadcast entities and Internet-only news publishers to support the continued provision of local news, information, content, or emergency information. Senator King has pushed for this relief – in April, he stressed that the pandemic could decimate regional and local news outlets even as communities have become increasingly reliant on their reporting amidst the public health crisis.
- Raising the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) cap back to $2 million from the administratively-imposed $150,000. This provision will allow for small businesses to apply for funding that better meets their growing needs as the pandemic continues. At the beginning of the pandemic, Senator King pressed the administration to quickly release funds from the EIDL Emergency Grant Program, which was established in the CARES Act to make sure small businesses facing immediate needs could access the direct financial support they need to survive. Senator King is a cosponsor of the Small Business Disaster Loan Enhancement Act, which would make improvements to the EIDL program including an increase of the cap back to $2 million.
Senator King has been continuously working to revisit and improve the PPP to help Maine’s small businesses weather the pandemic. In July, Senator King wrote an op-ed to advocate for more federal support for small businesses. He also sent a letter to Congressional leadership calling for additional funding for the Economic Development Administration (EDA)’s programs in future coronavirus economic recovery legislation.