Common Ground profiles members of opposing parties who are working together to advance issues important to hoteliers.
by SEAN GROSSNICKLE
Within weeks of passing the CARES Act, Congress convened once again to address the rapid depletion of the emergency relief programs, namely the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The $350 billion allocated to the PPP in the CARES Act was a lifeline for millions of small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the large number of applications quickly exhausted the program’s funding. The PPP is backed by the Small Business Administration and provides approved applicants with eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through federally guaranteed loans. These loans will be fully forgiven provided that a majority of the fund goes toward making payroll and covering other operating expenses. Congress had initially planned to discuss “Phase 4” of its emergency relief legislation in early May.
As the hundreds of billions allocated to the PPP ran dry by mid-April, Congress quickly passed interim COVID-19 relief under H.R. 266 – the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. This “Phase 3.5” bill provides $484 billion in additional funding to the small business loan programs, hospitals, and testing for COVID-19. More than $300 billion was allocated to the PPP to replenish its funds. The Senate passed the PPP and Healthcare Enhancement Act with a unanimous voice vote, and the House then approved the bill with a recorded vote of 388 to 5. President Trump signed the bill into law on April 24.
Rep. Betty McCullum (D-MN), Sponsor of H.R. 266
First Elected: 2001
“The interim COVID-19 funding bill provides a much-needed $310 billion replenishment to the Paycheck Protection Program, including $30-billion set aside for community-based lenders to get critical funding into the hands of small businesses who need it most. At the insistence of Democrats, added to this bill is $25 billion for coronavirus testing and $75 billion for front-line health care facilities and personal protective equipment for our health care heroes putting their lives on the line.”
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Majority Whip
First Elected: 2005
“I wish so many businesses and workers didn’t need to use the Paycheck Protection Program, and I wish it hadn’t taken Democrats nearly a week after it ran out of money to put workers ahead of politics, but I’m glad the program is one step closer to reopening and helping more businesses stay afloat. I remain committed to doing all I can to ensure small businesses and their workers in South Dakota and throughout the country have the tools they need to weather this storm.”