Senator Collins was invited to participate in the hearing due to her co-authorship of the PPP
As reported in the Washington Post this morning, “[T]he PPP is being widely hailed as one of the most successful pieces of the congressional response to the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus.”
Washington, D.C.—At the invitation of the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, U.S. Senator Susan Collins attended a hearing today on the Paycheck Protection Program. Senator Collins raised the issue of small businesses reaching the end of their eight-week loan period and urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to support a second round of forgivable PPP loans for industries that have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19. She also received clarification from Secretary Mnuchin on when small businesses can begin applying for loan forgiveness.
Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) both welcomed Senator Collins in their opening remarks. Senators Collins, Rubio, and Cardin, along with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), are the co-authors of the PPP.
Chairman Rubio began by saying, “I want the record to reflect that, with the consent of the Ranking Member, we have invited Senator Collins to sit with the committee during today's hearing and participate, and rightfully so because of her extraordinary contribution as, in many ways, the foundation of many of the ideas that became law.”
Ranking Member Cardin said, “I was proud to be part of a drafting committee consisting of four Senators: Senator Rubio, Senator Collins who is with us today, Senator Shaheen, and myself that put together and listened to all of the members in this committee and in the Senate and stood up three programs: the PPP program, that has received most of the attention but also the EIDL grant program, as well as the loan forgiveness program.”
During her questioning of Secretary Mnuchin, Senator Collins raised the issue that many small businesses are reaching the end of their loan periods but have been unable to fully reopen because of state restrictions. She held up a Portland restaurant as an example:
“I want to read to you the words from a restaurant owner in Portland, which really summarizes it well,” said Senator Collins. “It’s a woman-owned restaurant, a great place to eat. She writes:
The PPP is the only thing that has kept us in business up to this point…There’s no question that without the PPP, we would not be operating right now and would have furloughed all of our staff. With that being said, we did just run out last week. We now have curbside and only six outdoor tables, and we can only serve a maximum of 28 people a night. She writes that she lives in fear of a rainy night, in which case she can’t serve anybody at outside tables, and she says, ‘Without the state easing the restrictions on indoor seating, I just don’t see how we can continue much longer.’
Senator Collins noted that there is approximately $130 billion in unused PPP funds. She asked Secretary Mnuchin whether he would “support allowing small borrowers in heavily-affected sectors such as the tourism industry that cannot fully reopen because of state restrictions to seek additional PPP funds – apply again, or extend perhaps for another four weeks – so that they can just make it through this period where they’re forced to be closed, because they are viable businesses.”
Secretary Mnuchin responded, “I think that restaurants and hotels in particular do need more help. We’ve taken great pride in the bipartisan work, so if there is support from you in the committee in a bipartisan basis, we’re very seriously going to look at that issue.”
Additionally, on behalf of a number of business owners who have expressed confusion about when to apply for PPP loan forgiveness, Senator Collins asked Secretary Mnuchin whether small businesses must wait for the end of the 24 week duration of the loans. Secretary Mnuchin clarified that small businesses can begin applying for forgiveness as soon as they have used all of their funds.
As reported in the Washington Post this morning, “[T]he PPP is being widely hailed as one of the most successful pieces of the congressional response to the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus.” According to a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 3 out of 4 Maine small businesses have received forgivable PPP loans, which is higher than the national average.