Chairwoman Velázquez on Debate of New Small Business Relief Bill
Washington, April 23, 2020
Washington, D.C.— Today, House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) spoke on the House floor on the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Below are her remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“I rise in support of America’s 30 million small businesses and their hardworking employees. Three weeks ago, when Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program, we did so with the goal of providing a lifeline to small – let me say that again – small businesses. Today, we are replenishing that program as the initial round of funding has run dry.
“Small Main Street businesses, which make up the fabric of our communities, need all the help they can get – and they need it fast. By providing another $310 billion for PPP, this bill will allow the program to reopen and more businesses to apply for loans and secure capital they need to keep their doors open and employees on payroll.
“However, it is not enough to pour funding into a program if loans are not reaching the intended businesses. All of us have been outraged by reports of Big Banks prioritizing large businesses for this assistance. Over eighty publicly traded companies have received loans through the PPP.
“While this may just be a sliver of total funds obligated to date, it underscores the need for oversight. My colleagues and I have been pressing the SBA and Treasury to make more data available. We will continue doing so. The Administration should be on notice – we will be watching the next phase of this program carefully. When the program was first established, Treasury and SBA’s implementation and guidance was lacking to say the least.
“While we understand the need to move quickly, if the Administration’s sloppy rollout means giant companies secure loans, while small businesses are left waiting, that problem must be corrected – promptly. That’s not what Congress intended – and the American people expect better.
“To that end, one mechanism for reaching more real small businesses is involving additional lenders with a strong track record of helping traditionally underserved businesses. That’s why my colleagues and I fought in this package to secure $60 billion in PPP funds set aside specifically for mission-based, community-oriented lenders. Community Development Financial Institutions, Minority Development Institutions, SBA microloan lenders, CDCs, along with small community banks and credit unions will be able to use this $60 billion to aid small businesses in their local communities.
“These institutions specialize in helping underserved populations—like minority communities and our women- and veteran-owned businesses, who may not have a prior banking relationship with a financial giant like JP Morgan or Wells Fargo. With this set-aside, more underserved businesses will get loans.
“This bill also provides $60 billion in funding for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. That will support $350 billion in lending and $10 billion in grants.
“I want to thank Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer for their tireless efforts to include these provisions. I also would like to thank Chairwoman Waters for her work on this bill. This legislation is a building block. However, more must be done.
“This bill does not include reforms to help businesses that are shuttered for longer than eight weeks due to stay-at-home orders. It does not address weaknesses in the program that let large companies snatch up loans, while truly small businesses are still trying to find a lender, apply, and secure emergency capital so they can keep paying workers.
“To those large, publicly traded companies who already benefited, I suggest – now would be a time to exhibit some good corporate citizenship and return those funds so more small firms can get aid.
“To the small businesses out there who have not yet received help – who my office hears from daily – I say this: we are not finished. With our economy worsening every day, getting these programs restarted and loans out the door – quickly - is critical. This bill accomplishes that.
“However, we are far from finished. We will be coming back to further improve this program. In the meantime, we will be pushing SBA and Treasury to get this right and provide greater clarity and transparency. We will be pushing Big Banks to stop playing favorites and help more small firms. We will be fighting tooth and nail for those small businesses who have yet to receive help. I urge a yes vote and yield back.”