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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) continued highlighting the economic impact the Zika virus is having on small businesses in Florida and Puerto Rico during today’s Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing. Rubio questioned U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet about the agency’s ability to provide assistance to small businesses hurt by the Zika outbreak.  
 
Last week, Rubio introduced the Small Business Relief from Disease Induced Economic Hardship Act, which would ensure the SBA has the authority to make disaster loans available to communities negatively impacted by health-related travel advisories issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
 
A full transcript of Rubio’s exchange is below. His full speech can be watched here, and a downloadable broadcast quality version is available for TV stations here.
 
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee
Washington, D.C.
September 15, 2016
https://youtu.be/JLn4Hm2z4HE
 
Senator Marco Rubio: “In my own home state of Florida, as you know, we have been impacted by a disaster of a different sort, and that’s Zika. And I apologize to focus on that for a moment, but it’s important because, as you know, I have filed a bill that would clarify the ability of the SBA to come in and provide assistance to small businesses who have been impacted. As you know there are two key areas in South Florida, the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami and the Miami Beach area, where small businesses have seen significant reduction in activity because for the first time, I think, in modern American history the Centers for Disease Control had designated areas of the mainland United States as areas that people shouldn’t visit.
 
“So what I wanted to ask for the record is whether that law, which I think your office is aware of: it’s Senate bill 3301, the Small Business Relief from Disease Induced Economic Hardship Act. Is there legislative clarity that the law would provide something that the SBA would be supportive of?”
 
SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet: “I want to share with you that not only in Florida but also in Puerto Rico, as you know, this is a very, very serious issue and of course it has reverberations across the country. So indeed we were pleased to see that you introduced that legislation. Our counsel has been reviewing and I believe working with your office, and to the extent that we can get clarity about what we’re able to do and not able to do in the cases of disease, it is a different. It operates differently in that it’s more difficult to determine when it begins and when it ends and how it works, but we see clarity and we look forward to working with you to get that clarity, we think it will benefit the American people.”
 
Rubio: “I appreciate you saying that. And I am sure we can reach a point where everyone is excited about what it does. This is something we are actively trying to get done through the Senate, through our process of unanimous consent. And again, while today it’s Florida, it is possible given the trajectory of this or any other future event that multiple jurisdictions can be impacted by it and so it is my hope that we can get that done.”