Published On: Thu, Mar 19th, 2020

US Senate Small Business Task Force Announces $300 Billion Emergency Coronavirus Relief Package

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, released the Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act, a $300 billion small business emergency economic relief plan to help small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic make payroll and cover expenses.

“The economic uncertainty and potential global impact we are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic are unprecedented,” Senator Rubio said. “America’s more than 30 million small businesses — and the 59.9 million individuals they employ — today face the prospect of going bankrupt. They face this threat due to no fault of their own, but because of a global pandemic that takes human lives and grinds productivity to a halt. The Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act is the best path forward to help businesses and their employees endure this catastrophic disruption. Congress must set aside our normal procedural and partisan games to act without delay.” 

“Every day, I am hearing from small businesses in my state that are on the verge of going under as a consequence of the coronavirus. The plan that Senator Rubio and I have authored would help make sure that businesses that were thriving before the pandemic as well as their employees are able to make it through this crisis,” Senator Collins said. “In the last three days in the State of Maine, there were more claims for unemployment compensation than all of March last year. That shows that businesses are already feeling the cash-flow problems, seeing declining revenues, losing customers, and being forced to lay off their employees. That is why we feel so strongly that we must act and we must act immediately. I believe that we can come together to address this urgent problem.”

“We are going to have to pay what it costs to contain this disease,” Senator Alexander said. “And one effective way to do this is to help small businesses faced with closing to stay open and keep Americans on their payroll.”

Specifically, the Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act:

  • Provides cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans would be forgiven, which would help workers to remain employed and affected small businesses and our economy to quickly snap-back after the crisis.  
  • Expands the allowable uses for 7(a) loans to permit payroll support, including paid sick leave, supply chain disruptions, employee salaries, mortgage payments, and other debt obligations to provide immediate access to capital for small businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.
  • Provides $240 million in grants for SBA Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers for counseling, training, and related services for small business owners impacted by COVID-19.
  • Authorizes $25 million for SBA to provide grants to associations representing resource partners to establish an online platform that consolidates resources across multiple Federal agencies and a training program to educate small business counselors on those resources to ensure counselors are directing small businesses appropriately.
  • Provides $10 million in grants for Minority Business Development Agency’s Minority Business Centers to offer small business owners impacted by COVID-19 counseling, training, and technical assistance.
  • Waives the non-federal match requirement for Women’s Business Center’s for a period of three months.

Industry experts from the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (NAAGL) and the National Small Business Association (NSBA) agree that Congress must act immediately on providing relief for small businesses. 

“Small businesses and their employees are suffering — now,” President & CEO of NAGGL, Tony Wilkinson said. “Congress needs to take swift action to provide additional assistance through proven programs like the SBA 7(a) program where SBA has a decades-old partnership with thousands of private sector lenders that are located across the country. These banks are ready to start getting to work on keeping our small business community supported.”

“Maintaining small-business cash-flow and liquidity will be key to enabling successful small businesses to get to the other side of this crisis,” NSBA President and CEO Todd McCracken said. “Time is of the essence — small businesses need help NOW, and I believe that SBA is ready and fully equipped to get this critically important program off the ground quickly. But Congress must act soon.”McCracken continued. “I implore lawmakers to look not only at what happens the first two weeks, but what happens two and three months down the road: an employee may get paid leave off for two weeks, but have no job at all when things finally normalize,” stated McCracken. “Most small businesses exist on very narrow margins and simply don’t have the scope necessary to float the business indefinitely. Any package enacted into law must recognize that reality and provide meaningful relief.”

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Commissioner Weinroth serves as County Vice-Mayor and has been appointed Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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