October 21, 2020

Udall, Heinrich Introduce Legislation To Provide Lifeline For Small Businesses, Decry Senate GOP Inaction

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) have helped introduce the HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act, a comprehensive package of measures that would provide support to the hardest-hit, most vulnerable small businesses and industries, such as food services, hospitality, and live venues.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told the White House yesterday that they should not make a deal on coronavirus relief before the election – so he can focus on rushing a Supreme Court confirmation in time to overturn the Affordable Care Act. It is simply unconscionable," said Udall. "Because of Republicans’ unwillingness to come to the negotiating table and offer meaningful additional relief for struggling Americans, thousands of small businesses in New Mexico – from our restaurants to our music venues and local news providers – are still fighting to keep their doors open. These businesses are the heart of our communities and they need a financial lifeline to help make it through these challenging times. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans continue to refuse to provide comprehensive resources for a national testing plan to get the virus under control, unemployment relief for struggling New Mexicans, or assistance to cash-strapped state and Tribal governments so they can continue providing essential services. I will keep fighting to make sure that New Mexico’s small businesses, families and communities stay financially afloat and healthy during this unprecedented time."

“Over 220,000 Americans are dead and millions have contracted COVID-19. New Mexicans are suffering – countless families and small businesses are struggling to stay financially afloat – yet Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans refuse to pass meaningful legislation to address the impacts of the pandemic or negotiate with Democrats in Congress or even with the White House itself. That kind of obstructionism is exactly why the American people are so fed up.” said Heinrich. “I will continue to push for a more comprehensive COVID-19 relief package that helps all Americans and provides sufficient support for the COVID-19 response in Indian Country, expands funds for small and rural communities, and invests in testing and contact tracing strategies. I am also proud to introduce the HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act to provide immediate help to New Mexico small business and industries hit hardest by the pandemic. I will continue fighting for a science-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will work to pass legislation that provides support for all New Mexicans and puts our state on the path towards a strong economic recovery.”

The HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act would:

- Extend and improve PPP to better serve small businesses. The bill extends PPP through March 2021, provides a second PPP for the hardest-hit small businesses and nonprofits, expands eligibility to ensure nonprofits and critical access hospitals can participate, simplifies the forgiveness process, repeals the requirement of deducting an EIDL advance from the PPP forgiveness amount, and removes limitations that unfairly restrict small businesses owned by formerly incarcerated individuals from securing a PPP loan.

- Extend and expand the Debt Relief program. The bill extends payments of principal, interest, and fees on all preexisting and new 7(a), 504 and microloans for up to a year, with more relief targeted to existing borrowers in underserved markets and the hardest-hit sectors. 

- Support the smallest, most vulnerable businesses. The bill includes a new $40 billion Lifeline Grant program, of which half is set aside for undeserved businesses, that provides grants of up to $50,000 to vulnerable small businesses that have suffered a significant economic loss and creates a new $15 billion grant program for state and local governments to provide funds to vulnerable small businesses in their communities. 

- Deliver targeted assistance to small businesses in struggling industries.The bill includes the Save our Stages (SOS) Act and the RESTAURANTS Act, which provide dedicated assistance for industries that rely on large gatherings, including restaurants, concert venues, and theaters. 

- Invest in underserved communities. The bill invests in the mission- and community-based lenders that have a demonstrated history of getting capital to minorities, women, and other underserved communities. Specifically, it includes a dedicated $15 billion PPP set-aside for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), $1 billion in support for CDFIs, and a $13 billion for a new Neighborhood Capital Investment Program to support CDFIs and MDIs.

- Improve existing small business initiatives. The bill builds on the Small Business Administration‘s (SBA) core programs, including 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, and the Microloan program, by making them more affordable and useful to small businesses. It also strengthens the accountability and transparency of SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and makes other commonsense improvements like removing the Trump administration’s arbitrary $150,000 cap on EIDL loans. 

- Help minority-owned businesses respond to COVID-19. HEROES 2.0 provides emergency grants to minority business enterprises through the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The legislation also formally and permanently establishes MBDA and gives it the tools to carry out its mission to help minority entrepreneurs start and grow businesses limitations that unfairly restrict small businesses owned by formerly incarcerated individuals from securing a PPP loan.