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ICYMI: Rubio: We Must Keep This Lifeline for Small Business Alive

Apr 14, 2020 | Press Releases

We Must Keep This Lifeline for Small Business Alive
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
April 14, 2020
Vast sectors of America’s economy remain shuttered as public health officials race to contain, mitigate, and ultimately eradicate Covid-19. No matter how much money Congress spends and no matter how innovative the Federal Reserve becomes, the truth is that we cannot solve the economic crisis until we solve the public health crisis.
But it is imperative that we do everything possible to ease the financial pain for our nation’s employers and their employees during these unprecedented times. And on that front, the Paycheck Protection Program is showing results.
Although the PPP has only been operational for about a week, more than 1 million forgivable loans valued at more than $240 billion have been approved for small and medium sized businesses to keep their employees on payroll. As of today, the Small Business Administration estimated the PPP had saved more than 15 million American jobs already.

In the 18 days since PPP became law, we have worked through countless implementation challenges with the Treasury Department, the Small Business Administration, and lenders of every size and structure. Each and every day, the federal guidance provides more clarity, the technology continues to improve, and more lenders enter confidently into the program.
The remaining hurdles are real, and the federal government’s ability to solve them presents a life-and-death challenge to millions of small businesses. The good news is that the problems are not insurmountable.

At our current rate, the PPP could run out of funding as early as this week. While I remain confident that we will ultimately secure the money needed, the clock is ticking, and we do not have time to engage in partisan political jockeying.
There is genuine concern that underserved communities are unable to access the PPP because many businesses lack a relationship with a participating lender. Last week, the SBA approved more than 4,500 lending institutions—each of which oversees a number of lenders itself—into the program, and Treasury is now beginning to approve nonbank lenders, which are often better positioned to assist underserved Americans without preexisting banking relationships. It is critical that we make sure as many legitimate, qualifying institutions as possible have the ability to provide relief to our businesses.
Making sure that our technology is up to speed is also imperative. Right now, aging electronic infrastructure is proving to be a chokehold and lacks the capacity required to meet demands. Although the SBA has worked to upgrade the PPP’s lender portal, E-Tran remains slow, and some lenders have reported issues. The agency continues to work to improve its tech infrastructure and increase capacity.

No government program is flawless, even in the best of times. And while the PPP certainly has its flaws, it is improving day-by-day. We cannot allow it to become the subject of partisan potshots, congressional horsetrading, or media-induced hysteria.
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