WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, today issued a statement after the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to provide comprehensive funding for small businesses, new assistance for health providers, and resources to provide additional testing, surveillance, and contact tracing of the COVID-19 virus.
The interim COVID-19 supplemental, which was agreed to following several days of bipartisan discussions, is a significant improvement over the previous proposal offered by the Senate Majority Leader, which left too many vulnerable business without access to aid, did not provide any funding to help health providers on the frontlines, and did not invest in a national strategy that increased testing capacity needed to reopen the economy.
“A cornerstone of the CARES Act was to provide small businesses with options to help them keep staff on payroll and their business afloat until the worst of the public health measures to fight COVID-19 subsided. I am pleased that we reached a bipartisan consensus to provide an additional $370 billion for SBA’s small business relief efforts and ensure that $60 billion of those funds will be reserved for smaller lending institutions, such as credit unions, community banks, Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions that can better reach underbanked and underserved businesses. Beyond the $310 billion provided to PPP, this latest bill provides $50 billion for SBA’s EIDL program, which will allows the agency make more than $350 billion in direct, low-interest, long-term disaster loans. This bill also provides an additional $10 billion for the EIDL grants program, which will provide small businesses with a quick infusion of capital worth up to $10,000 each. Such funds can be the make-or-break difference for some of our smallest and most vulnerable small businesses.
“While this agreement provides funding for increased testing and much needed assistance for those suffering from the health and economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am disappointed that it does not provide critical economic relief for state and local governments, whose budgets are straining under the costs of fighting COVID-19. Governors and mayors have been pleading for additional support and, in the absence of a strong and reliable federal response, it is clear that Congress will need to provide additional assistance to relieve much of the burden this pandemic is placing on our state and local governments. Without such federal support, Americans cannot safely resume their normal routines and our economy cannot recover.”