U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said the Small Business Administration (SBA) will make more financial assistance available early next week for small businesses impacted by COVID-19, Reuters reported.
Rubio, who is the Senate Small Business Committee’s Republican chair, said in a video on Friday (April 24), “SBA is going to launch the program on Monday morning. And so that will give everybody the rest of today, through the weekend, for the lenders and everyone to get ready.”
On Thursday (April 23), the House of Representatives passed a $484 billion bill providing additional aid for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and others amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers passed the bill by a 388 to 5 vote clad in masks, with one legislator voting “present.”
The bill, which came on the heels of March’s original CARES Act, was approved by the Senate on Wednesday (April 22). The package includes $310 billion injected in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Also included is $75 billion in funding set aside for hospitals, which have become swamped with virus cases, and $25 billion in money for virus testing. In addition, there will be $60 billion for small lenders and $60 billion for SBA disaster assistance loans and grants.
Congressional members had to follow social distancing guidelines, standing six feet apart and wearing masks. Legislators were told to take the stairs if feasible instead of crowding into elevators.
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, tweeted that the bill would have the effect of combating COVID-19 and saving lives. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted that the PPP shouldn’t have been allowed to lapse in the first place, as “historic, tragic layoffs” started to pile up throughout the country.
President Trump put his signature to the bill on Friday (April 24).
The initial $350 billion in PPP funds allocated as part of the CARES Act stimulus were quickly exhausted. In under two weeks, all of the funds had been allocated to companies that had successfully applied through their banking institutions. That amounted to 1.6 million SMBs as of a report on Wednesday (April 22), out of 30 million U.S. SMBs.