WASHINGTON, DC – After a months-long battle to get another COVID-19 emergency rescue plan approved, Congressional negotiators are nearing agreement on a final legislative package.  As leaders from both parties finalize legislative details of the roughly $900 billion package, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is making a push to include an infusion of federal assistance for restaurants and small businesses in the final version of the bill, which among other things, would renew the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses, which expired this summer, and extend unemployment benefits that are currently set to expire the day after Christmas.

“Restaurants and small businesses are bracing for a difficult winter.  Congress needs to step up and provide them with some help to survive.  I am working to reopen the PPP window so small businesses that didn’t have a chance to apply during the first round can get assistance and those who were hit hardest and can justify a second round of help can access targeted assistance,” said Reed.

To date, Rhode Island small businesses have received over $1.46 billion in PPP funding and over $607 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds, which are administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Senator Reed wants to see these programs replenished, strengthened, and reformed in the COVID relief package.

Earlier this year, Reed cosponsored legislation to direct over $370 billion in federal aid to the hardest-hit small businesses in Rhode Island and nationwide, including minority-owned businesses and very small businesses that have been left behind during the pandemic, as well as restaurants and live venues.

The Reed-backed small business aid package would reauthorize PPP and provide another round of forgivable federal PPP aid for businesses with fewer than 500 employees.  It would also help replenish the EIDL grant program and eliminate the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) arbitrary caps on EIDL loans to ensure that eligible small businesses receive increased disaster loan funding.

“Small businesses are struggling and it is absolutely critical that the federal government step up with targeted small business assistance that helps save jobs, neighborhoods, and communities.  This is a truly national crisis that can only be addressed with a coordinated federal response.  We need to inject much needed capital into the system to help local businesses keep their doors open during the pandemic and ensure workers can earn a paycheck,” said Senator Reed.  “Small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges in this pandemic through no fault of their own.  It’s time for Congress to act with a real sense of urgency and deliver federal relief to help families, businesses, and communities make it through this difficult time.”

Reed says he hopes the final COVID-relief package will include measures to:

  • Extend and improve the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to better serve small businesses.
  • Expand the Debt Relief program by extending payments of principal, interest, and fees on all preexisting and new Small Business Administration (SBA) 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. 
  • Deliver targeted assistance to small businesses in struggling industries, including the Save our Stages (SOS) Act and the RESTAURANTS Act, both of which Senator Reed cosponsored, to provide dedicated assistance for industries that rely on large gatherings, including restaurants, concert venues, and theaters.
  • Invest in underserved communities and help minority-owned businesses respond to COVID-19.

  • Improve existing small business initiatives.