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Chairwoman Velázquez Opening Statement at Committee Markup of Small Business Relief Legislation

Washington, D.C.— Today, during a markup of the House Small Business Committee’s reconciliation proposal, Chairwoman Nydia M. Velazquez delivered the following remarks:

As Prepared for Delivery


       “Today, we will be considering legislation to further help our nation’s small employers’ power through this unprecedented crisis.
       “In the first CARES bill, Congress enacted the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance Program to provide economic relief.  Unfortunately, the pandemic outlasted that assistance. Over the course of the year, we held hearings, listened to the experts, and made several improvements to the economic relief programs, mainly making it easier for small businesses to access and use the funds. 
       “And when we replenished the funds, we created set asides for the smallest of the small businesses and those in underserved communities.  Congress empowered mission-based community lenders and small banks to make sure the aid reached those that were left behind.  Second draw loans were also created to target aid to the hardest hit small businesses. In recognizing that not all small businesses can take on – or even access – additional debt and therefore need direct cash infusions, we provided several grants to support the hardest hit businesses and industries.
       “This Committee has heard stories from thousands of employers how these programs helped them stay in operation, keep employees on payroll, and give them hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. But, nearly a year into the pandemic, millions of businesses are on the brink of collapse. In fact, more than 400,000 small businesses have already closed their doors for good, and surveys show that 1 in 3 small business owners will not survive the next few months without additional financial support.
       “That is why today’s measure to deliver more financial assistance to Main Street and delivering it swiftly is so critical.  Today we will be considering policies that will ultimately be included in a larger, more robust stimulus package. 
       “The committee print we are considering today will inject an additional $15 billion into the targeted EIDL Advances to help those who applied for relief in 2020 but didn’t receive the full amount or, in some cases, nothing at all because the funds dried up.  Additional supplemental advances will be targeted to businesses with extreme revenue losses in low-income areas.
       “The measure will also top off the Shuttered Venue Grant Program with $1.25 billion to meet anticipated demand in that program, which will help small entertainment businesses and cultural institutions in our communities. 
       “The measure establishes a $25 billion grant program for independent restaurants that have been dealt a tremendous blow by the pandemic.  We heard in Committee hearings that while the PPP was helpful in the short run, it didn’t meet their long-term needs. Restaurants need a long-lasting solution to make it through these cold, winter months.
       “It also expands PPP eligibility to 501(c) non-profits, with the exception of 501(c)(4)’s lobbying organizations, and permit nonprofits with multiple locations to apply for assistance.  Non-profits, like the Goodwill and YMCA, have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to provide warm meals and services to the most vulnerable. They employ 12.3 million people — the third largest workforce in the U.S. economy.  But we know that they have had to lay off nearly 900,000 employees. This aid will go a long way in providing relief and enable them to continue to meet the increased demands for food, child-care and also retain their workers.
       “It also harmonizes PPP eligibility to include digital news agencies and put them on par with their brick-and-mortar colleagues.  Doing so will not only save jobs, but ensure access to local emergency and pandemic information that is more vital than ever.
       “And finally, the bill will provide $1.5 billion in administrative expenses to SBA to ensure that SBA can get the programs up and running effectively and swiftly. I am proud of the work of our Committee and especially grateful to for our members who are dedicated public servants.”


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