In the initial days of the pandemic, countless states and localities across the country declared some businesses “essential,” while shutting down the rest. At the time, we were told these shutdowns were necessary to bend the curve and slow the spread, to buy our healthcare providers time to stock up on personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, tests, and other critical supplies.
We’ve done that, but shutdown orders are still in place for some businesses in various states across the country. Even in places that have reopened, small businesses are suffering. In some cases, because government orders prohibit their business from operating at full or even profitable capacity and, in others, because customers are still rightfully wary of the COVID-19 virus.
Congress acted in record time to pass three important relief packages to help the American people weather the storm, including the bipartisan CARES Act, which authorized the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses keep the lights on and keep employees on payroll. The program was a massive success, supporting more than 5.2 million small businesses and 51 million American jobs throughout the early months of this pandemic. Originally, the program was set to expire on July 30, but when that deadline loomed, Congress once again took bipartisan action to extend the program through August 8th because we knew America’s small businesses were still struggling and that this pandemic wasn’t over.
Those bipartisan efforts are a long-distant memory now. Since the program expired on August 8th, efforts have been made to pass additional relief measures, including a bill which would get the Paycheck Protection Program back up and running. Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi has consistently blocked that effort at every turn. She’s demanded a laundry list of completely unrelated partisan demands just to give the okay to much-needed assistance for American small businesses. Her latest $2.2 trillion wish list that has no chance of being signed into law offered stimulus checks to illegal immigrants and cut assistance to police to save money.
That’s why I signed a discharge petition to force Speaker Pelosi to stop the partisan political games and pass this needed assistance for American small businesses now. This legislation will reopen the Paycheck Protection Program to new applicants, simplify the loan forgiveness process, and allow some small businesses to apply for additional funding. The simple fact of the matter is that our small businesses need this help now, not next month or next year. There’s still more than $130 billion left in the Paycheck Protection Program that we can use to help small businesses. We cannot continue waiting while American businesses close their doors permanently and American workers are laid off.
Sam Graves is the Mo. Sixth District U.S. Representative.