WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Democrats in Congress fear loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, now working its way through a second batch of billions in federal funding, are not making it to the small businesses and communities most in need.
“We’re not down to the mom-and-pop,” Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, said.
She said larger companies continue to snap up the PPP cash, so she’s exploring a plan to target future payments to businesses with 25 or fewer employees.
“A restaurant that seats 10 or 5 or 20 people, we need to make sure that we protect them,” Beatty said. “Let’s start at the bottom because otherwise we will never get to the small businesses.”
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., agreed.
“Those organizations don’t have the banking relationships some of these midsize companies do to access these loans,” he said.
He’s drafting a plan that would cut out lenders altogether.
“Bypass the banks … so that those businesses can just get a grant,” he explained.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says a recent survey found as many as 1 in 4 small businesses simply can’t access the PPP loans and they won’t be enough to stop closures.
“That’s a red flag,” Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy for the chamber, said. “It’s not enough. They need capital to survive the pandemic.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has endorsed reforms to direct the next round of loan payments to the smallest of businesses and extending the duration of the loans, which currently expire after eight weeks.
According to a statement from the U.S. Small Business Administration, 2.2. million loans have so far been granted in second round of the PPP; more than all of the first round.
“The total value of these 2.2 million loans is over $175 billion,” the statement reads. “Notably, the average loan size in Round 2 is $79,000, yet another indicator that the program is broadly based and assisting the smallest of small businesses.”
And Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kan., said he hasn’t gotten any complaints.
“We get lots of messages back from business in Kansas that the Paycheck Protection loan has really helped them,” he said, arguing calls for reform seem premature and Congress should give the PPP time to work. “The banks and credit unions have done a great job getting that money lended out.”