WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today joined a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives in voting to pass a coronavirus relief package that includes additional funding for Central Virginia businesses through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Last week, Spanberger urged Members of Congress in both parties to swiftly pass additional funding for small business assistance after the SBA closed applications for both PPP and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program due to a lapse in available federal funding.
The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act strengthens PPP by providing an additional $310 billion of assistance to small businesses in Central Virginia and across the country—including a $60 billion set-aside within PPP for small and mid-sized banks, credit unions, and Community Development Financial Institutions. With this targeted funding, rural businesses, family-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and unbanked or underserved businesses will have greater access to PPP loans. Additionally, the bipartisan package includes an additional $50 billion for the SBA’s EIDL program, so that small businesses can cover operating expenses during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard from restaurant owners, auto body mechanics, farmers, clothing retailers, electricians, hospitality workers, hair stylists, and many more of our Central Virginia neighbors about the extreme financial hardships their businesses are facing. The economic impacts of this crisis are wide-ranging and felt in every community across our district, and the federal government must step up to provide additional relief during this moment of profound uncertainty,” said Spanberger. “Today, the House responded to this urgent need by passing robust funding for the PPP and EIDL programs, so that small businesses and their employees can protect their livelihoods, put food on the table, and weather this financial downturn. But our work is far, far from over. Going forward, I’ll keep fighting for the urgent assistance our small businesses require—and as I know there is considerable frustration with the initial implementation of PPP, I’ll also be pushing for strengthened oversight of these loan programs. I’ll also be fighting for increased financial support to Virginia’s counties and localities, so that they can keep the lights on, keep the water running, and maintain essential law enforcement and EMS services across our communities.”
The bipartisan package also includes billions of dollars in additional funding for hospitals, healthcare workers, and expanded COVID-19 testing. Specifically, the legislation provides $75 billion to reimburse hospitals and healthcare providers for COVID-19-related expenses or lost revenue, as well as for additional personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. And to cover expenses related to research, development, manufacturing, and purchasing of COVID-19 testing, the legislation provides $25 billion for strengthened testing operations—including $11 billion for states and localities to scale up local testing, conduct contact tracing, and pursue other related testing activities.
“To eventually reopen our economy and keep our workforce safe from the persistent threat of COVID-19, we need to redouble our efforts to boost testing and distribute personal protective equipment. The package passed today in the House delivers much-needed aid to the communities and healthcare workers hardest hit by this public health emergency,” said Spanberger. “In Central Virginia, we have seen firsthand the tragedies and heartbreak that COVID-19 can inflict, and we’ve seen the desperate need for additional equipment to keep our doctors, nurses, and nursing home staff safe. This crisis demands an all-hands-on-deck response, and we must continue to deliver additional aid to the vulnerable, the sick, and those who are bravely battling this virus on the front lines.”
The legislation now goes to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.
The bipartisan package also includes additional funding for the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct important investigations into HHS’ management of the U.S. coordinated response to COVID-19, such as the investigation requested by Spanberger last week into the agency’s mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile.
And following a letter sent by Spanberger and a group of her colleagues earlier this month, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act also includes a provision to make farmers eligible for the EIDL program, from which they were previously excluded. The bipartisan bill adds agricultural enterprises with fewer than 500 employees as eligible recipients for grants of up to $10,000 and low-interest loans of up to $2 million.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Spanberger has worked to deliver immediate relief to Central Virginia small businesses, fix issues with PPP’s implementation, and protect the livelihoods of the Seventh District’s employees. Earlier this week, she led an effort calling on the administration to fix problems faced by community banks and credits unions related to the rollout of the PPP.
Spanberger has also continued to press for changes to the PPP’s 75-25 percent rule. Earlier this month, Spanberger sent a bipartisan letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza urging the administration to rescind this burdensome requirement related to non-payroll costs.
And following the opening of the PPP application, Spanberger urged the SBA and participating lenders to make sure these funds are delivered to Central Virginia businesses, sole-proprietorships, and self-employed individuals in the most efficient and expedient way. She also sent a letter to Secretary Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Carranza expressing her strong concerns about the PPP’s shaky rollout and its consequences for small businesses needing financial assistance during this crisis. Additionally, she called on the administration to provide additional guidance to PPP lenders that would clarify eligibility requirements and encourage lenders to provide PPP loans to all eligible businesses.
Ahead of the rollout of the PPP, Spanberger hosted an interactive telephone town hall with representatives from the SBA, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, and the Office of the Governor of Virginia. More than 3,400 Central Virginians tuned in to participate in Spanberger’s small business-focused telephone town hall. Click here to listen to a full audio recording of the event.