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ICYMI: Rubio: Are Senate Democrats Serious About Small-Business Relief?
Are Senate Democrats serious about small-business relief?
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
October 20, 2020
Small businesses are quietly closing their doors all across the country. For months, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and congressional Democrats have promised to provide them additional federal relief. But they have done absolutely nothing to make good on their word.
Last week was no different. As Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee attempted and failed to put a dent in Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s impressive resume, they wasted no time in using the opportunity to grandstand once again. With hyperbole ranging from “illegitimate process” to “sham hearing,” my Democratic colleagues sought to delegitimize the proceedings, calling on Senate Republicans to delay Barrett’s nomination and instead bring additional COVID-19 relief up for a vote.
Apparently, their memories are short.
More than five weeks ago, Senate Republicans put forward a COVID-19 relief package that would have provided a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans to help the hardest-hit businesses. The bill would also have provided protections for businesses, schools, and healthcare workers, who continue to suffer from the pandemic, while also renewing federal unemployment benefits to the nation’s workforce. Assistance to the U.S. Postal Service was also included, as well as needed funding for testing, contact tracing, and vaccines.
Every single Senate Democrat voted no, blocking the bill from passing.
Compare that to March, when Congress came together in swift, overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion to pass the PPP, a historic small-business relief program I co-authored. The PPP saved tens of millions of jobs and small firms, keeping workers connected to their place of work. When funding for the program ran dry, Republicans and Democrats once again came together to provide additional funds. In fact, Congress has acted unanimously on the PPP three separate times, which is a testament to the program’s success at saving tens of millions of jobs and preventing widespread small-business bankruptcies.
For months, it has been clear that Congress must take additional action to help industries and businesses, especially minority-owned small businesses and those in low-income communities, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why Sen. Susan Collins and I introduced our proposal for a second round of the PPP that includes targeted assistance for minority-owned small businesses and simplified loan forgiveness for small-dollar PPP loans.
Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have shown that they are willing to put election politics above the livelihoods of small businesses and families. As long as Pelosi and Schumer calculate that doing nothing is in their best interest politically, Congress will be unable to act on additional coronavirus relief legislation before the election.
For Pelosi, Schumer, and Joe Biden, it all comes down to a waiting game, even if that means more people bankrupted, more small businesses shuttered, and more jobs lost. Last week, Pelosi even said the quiet part out loud, proclaiming, “I don’t think our leverage has ever been greater than it is now.”
Now is not the time for political games, which is why Senate Republicans will once again give Senate Democrats a chance to show that this week’s grandstanding at the Barrett hearings was, in fact, a legitimate call to action.
Our nation’s small businesses and the communities they call home have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly 10 months, and it is clear that the PPP has been a historic lifeline for more than 5.2 million small businesses. Even as the economy reopens, financial damage from the pandemic will continue to affect our small firms.
This week, I hope my Democratic colleagues will join me once again in providing federal relief for our nation’s small businesses and the workers they employ.