Ranking Member Chabot in The Cincinnati Enquirer: Small businesses get second chance at Paycheck Protection Program

This article originally appeared in The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Since COVID-19 first hit our shores, as the ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, I’ve heard from thousands of small businesses from all across the country. Locally, I’ve talked with people who run restaurants, hair salons and retail shops (just to name a few); dozens of hospitals and health care providers; police, firefighters and other first responders; and state and local government officials.

The message has been consistent: Everyone needs help dealing with the unprecedented challenges presented by the coronavirus.

Four weeks ago, Congress passed the largest economic recovery bill in our nation’s history. This legislation provided $100 billion to help hospitals and health care providers; $150 billion for state and local governments to deal with virus-related expenses; and $500 billion in loans to help larger businesses forced to shutter due to quarantine orders.

The Treasury Department recently began issuing stimulus checks of up to $2,400 (plus $500 per child) to American families, with an estimated 80 million checks delivered in the first week.

While these efforts are helping Americans survive this incredibly difficult period, perhaps none has been as successful, or as impactful, as the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Many small businesses are struggling. Social distancing and other measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have forced small-business owners to make gutwrenching decisions to cut hours, lay off employees and even close up shop after years of operation.

That’s why I’ve worked closely with Democratic committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez and our counterparts in the Senate to craft the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program. Loans under this program are 100% federally guaranteed and will help small-business owners continue to meet their financial obligations and pay their employees while they’re forced temporarily to suspend operations. These loans are forgivable if a business employs the same number of people over the eight-week period covered by the loan.

In less than two weeks, $350 billion in loans have been approved, providing assistance to more than 1.6 million small businesses. Here in Ohio, more than $14 billion have been approved for nearly 60,000 small businesses.

Yet there are more businesses and more American families who need help. I’ve heard from dozens of Cincinnati area companies that weren’t able to get loans approved before the initial money ran out. That’s why we’ve been working so diligently to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program. By providing more money for this program, we can help companies remain in business and continue to pay their employees.

Last week, Congress reached an agreement to provide an additional $310 billion in loans, bringing the total to $660 billion, to help provide American families and small businesses some semblance of financial security. The legislation also provided another $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for testing and $60 billion for economic disaster loans and grants.

If you own a small business and you need help, contact your local bank or credit union and find out how the Paycheck Protection Program can help you maintain your workforce and continue to make ends meet. But don’t wait, because there’s no telling for sure just how long these additional funds will last.