WASHINGTON — The $2 trillion COVID-19 economic stimulus package passed by Congress this week includes $377 billion in funding to support small businesses, including provisions to provide zero-fee loans of up to $10 million and expedited processing of SBA economic injury disaster loans.
"American small businesses are facing an existential threat," Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said. "The unprecedented public health measures cities and states have taken to slow the spread of the COVID-19, while necessary to protect public health, are having a tremendous impact on small businesses in every community in America."
Mr. Cardin, the ranking member of the Senate Small Business Committee and a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, led a bipartisan effort to ensure small business interests were included in the recovery legislation. His counterparts were Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the Small Business Committee Chairman; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chair of the Senate Aging Committee; and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.
"Congress has a duty to ensure that America's 30 million small businesses, and the 60 million people they employ, are not forced to bear the financial costs of keeping our communities safe on their own," Mr Cardin said.
The stimulus legislation is known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Among the specifics:
The stimulus includes nearly $350 billion in funding for a provision to create a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that will provide small businesses and other entities with zero-fee loans of up to $10 million. The program will be administered through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury.
According to the bill's language, up to eight weeks of average payroll and other costs will be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels. Principal and interest are deferred for up to a year and all borrower fees are waived.