TOPLINE: After a month of record-high coronavirus cases — amid reports that nearly one-third of small businesses in states like New York and New Jersey have permanently closed their doors — Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought the House of Representatives back into session this week to vote on a bill that… legalizes marijuana.
Americans suffering from the coronavirus crisis need targeted relief now. While Speaker Pelosi blocks this critical relief, Republicans are fighting for workers and small businesses via a discharge petition, led by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), to unlock $138 billion in unspent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and extend the PPP through the end of the year. Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats are the only thing standing between American small businesses and this relief. Every House Democrat must be asked why they are refusing to let this bill come to the House Floor.
Under President Trump’s leadership, Operation Warp Speed has funded the development of several different highly effective vaccines, which could be distributed to front-line workers and at-risk populations within the month.
It will still take some time before life returns to normal. Small businesses need our support to make it through the rest of this pandemic until demand returns.
Despite assistance for businesses and individuals drying up or expiring months ago, Speaker Pelosi has continually rejected narrow and targeted relief bills in favor of a behemoth stimulus package. AP News reports, “Pelosi seems to have overplayed her hand as she held out for $2 trillion-plus right up until the election. The results of the election, which saw Democrats lose seats in the House, appear to have significantly undercut her position.”
The consequences of Speaker Pelosi’s cynical political games have been catastrophic:
- Nearly one-third of NY, NJ small businesses reportedly closed in 2020 (New York Post)
- Your favorite restaurant or small business – as many as 36,000 – faces closure without coronavirus relief (USA Today)
- Hard-hit small businesses face long winter without lifeline (POLITICO)
- Beloved businesses are going bankrupt waiting for federal help. It will get worse(NBC News)
- Nearly 100,000 establishments that temporarily shut down due to the pandemic are now out of business (Fortune)
- Yelp data shows 60% of business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic are now permanent (CNBC)
- Small Businesses Are Dying by the Thousands — And No One Is Tracking the Carnage (The Washington Post)
- ‘I Can’t Keep Doing This:’ Small-Business Owners Are Giving Up (The New York Times)
- Small Businesses Are Closing At A Rapid Pace, With Restaurants And Retailers On The West Coast Among The Hardest Hit (Forbes)
Initial jobless claims last week also rose higher than expected — to 778,000 — the first back-to-back weekly increase since July.
Fortunately, a solution exists. Republicans and Democrats must take action to circumvent Speaker Pelosi’s obstructionism and advance targeted relief in the House. On September 25th, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) filed a discharge petition to force a vote on Rep. Steve Chabot’s (R-Ohio) bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program through the end of the year.
Click here or on the image above to view the discharge petition and signatories.
Two days later, 23 House Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer stating, “It is our request that you continue to negotiate towards a bipartisan deal. Otherwise, a discharge petition is the only potential option for COVID-19 related action on the House Floor.”
In the absence of any COVID-relief bills in the House this week, and in light of Speaker Pelosi’s decision to schedule a vote on marijuana legalization instead, the time has come for these Democrats and their colleagues to sign Rep. Herrera Beutler’s discharge petition and provide immediate relief for small businesses.
With all Republicans signing, only 20 Democrats must join Republicans in this effort. With the support of the Democrats who signed the letter, targeted relief for small businesses could be on the House Floor immediately. American workers are relying upon House Democrats — will Democrats answer or abandon them?
Background on the Discharge Petition:
- On September 25th, Rep. Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) filed a discharge petition on a rule that provides for immediate consideration of H.R. 7664 and self-executes H.R. 8265, Rep. Chabot’s (R-Ohio) PPP extension bill, as a substitute amendment.
- 218 signatures are needed for a discharge petition to be successful. With all Republicans signing, only 20 Democrats must join Republicans in this effort to bring the PPP extension bill up for a vote.
Background on H.R. 8265:
- Authored by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Small Business.
- Frees up $138 billion in unspent Paycheck Protection Program funds, extending the program until December 31, 2020.
- Allows businesses to take a second loan.
- Adds size and revenue restrictions to the application process.
Background on the Paycheck Protection Program:
- As summarized in a report by the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Republicans, the Paycheck Protection Program was a resounding success:
- Republicans in Congress and the Trump Administration designed the PPP to prioritize rapid distribution of funds to small businesses to keep employees on payroll while shutdown orders were in effect and until the economy was fully restored. The program’s focus on getting money to workers quickly saved millions of jobs and kept the economy from collapse.
- Congress appropriated $659 billion for the program in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
- This enabled the Small Business Administration (SBA) to fund more than 4.9 million PPP loans.
- More than 84 percent of the country’s small businesses received funds thanks to the efforts of the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department.
- Data shows the PPP supported more than 51 million jobs across the country.
- By law, the PPP closed at the end of August 8, 2020, and the SBA is no longer accepting PPP applications. $138 billion of the funds allocated by Congress for the PPP went unspent. However, millions of small businesses still face dire economic straits and could benefit tremendously from an extension of this program as our economy recovers.
BOTTOM LINE: Congress is failing the American people. Every day that Speaker Pelosi delays bringing small business relief up for a vote only results in hundreds more closures and millions of lost jobs. We cannot wait any longer. Democrats must abandon Speaker Pelosi’s policy of obstructionism and join Republicans in a bipartisan effort to save our nation’s small businesses.