Chairwoman Velázquez Speaks on House Floor in Support of CARES Act
Washington, March 27, 2020
Washington, D.C.—Today, House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) spoke on the House floor in support of the CARES Act, the third major federal relief bill for Americans hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic:
As Prepared for Delivery
“Thank you, Madam Speaker. I rise in support of this vital package. Our nation faces an unprecedented crisis. The coronavirus has spread quickly, infecting tens of thousands of our friends and family. With one in three Americans being told to stay home to “flatten the curve”, the American economy has essentially been “shut off.” Restaurants, hotels, bars, retail stores, barber shops, dance and yoga studios, gyms – practically every segment of the small business sector is suffering immeasurably.
“Whether it’s Brooklyn, New York or Brooklyn, Wisconsin, small businesses are the heart of America’s Main Streets. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are now facing impossible decisions about their future. This bill is about assisting these Main Street small businesses and their workers – not Wall Street banks or big corporations. We’ve taken a Republican written bill that was unfairly weighted toward big companies and reshaped it to prioritize small businesses, workers and families.
“This emergency package channels relief to small enterprises, now. It provides more than $377 billion in relief for struggling small firms to help them pay workers and keep their doors open. First, this bill allocates $350 billion for forgivable, low-cost loans for business to continue paying their employees. Let me be clear -- these loans are fully forgivable if firms keep their workforce on the payroll during this crisis. Since the crisis began, I have been advocating for debt-free ways to get capital to small firms. These provisions accomplish that goal.
“The new Paycheck Protection Program is designed to help businesses and workers weather the public health crisis, remain open, and, when we finally defeat this awful virus, resume growth quickly.
“Beyond these fully forgivable loans -- Democrats fought for emergency grants. I’m proud to say, working with my counterparts in the Senate, we have secured $10 billion for SBA to provide grants to small business – for the first time in its history. This new program will help millions of small businesses immediately.
“Additionally, we must assist current SBA borrowers that have loan payments due soon. That is why we are providing every current 7(a), 504, and microloan borrower with payment relief for six months. This deferment will also be open to new borrowers to help them stay afloat.
“Finally, we authorize additional resources to SBA and its resource partners. The new programs in this bill will require SBA to ramp up quickly. This bill provides SBA with $675 million in funding to not only hire new staff and buy equipment, but also to ensure SBA services are being delivered in languages other than English. Last but not least, entrepreneurial development programs will get $265 million for counseling and training related to COVID-19.
“I should note – this bill is not perfect. It is the result of painstaking compromise. As with any compromise, no one side got everything they wanted. However, we did get a good package that delivers for the small business sector now.
“To that end, I would also emphasize, this is not our last effort. As we face this unparalleled economic challenge, more legislative work will be necessary, and I’ll continue fighting for small businesses as Congress considers additional stimulus measures. For now, however, small firms need to stop the bleeding – and this bill provides an economic tourniquet. But more will be needed to heal the economy, but this is a good package for the short term.
“I am proud of the work we accomplished in this package. I thank Senators Cardin, Shaheen, Coons, and Rubio, and all the members of the House Small Business Committee that worked so hard on this bill. I also want to thank Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer for their leadership.
“Madam Speaker, this is a trying time, but we will prevail. America’s entrepreneurs have always exemplified our nation’s resourcefulness and resilience. When this outbreak ends our small businesses will be central to guiding us back to prosperity – and this bill provides them support to do so. I urge a yes vote -- and yield the balance of my time.”
For a factsheet of the small business provisions in the CARES Act, click here.
For a video of the Chairwoman’s floor speech, click here.