Helping RESTART Small Businesses
As appeared in the November 18, 2020 edition of the Ephrata Review, Elizabethtown Advocate, and Lititz Record
As Congress returns to session this week, it is critical that we swiftly work to support small businesses in our district and across the nation, as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. In previous columns, I discussed the need for both parties to work together to provide additional relief to American families, schools and small businesses in negotiations for any additional COVID-19 relief legislation.
Unfortunately, these negotiations have been prolonged by Speaker Pelosi’s insistence on increasingly high levels of spending and funding for partisan policy proposals. While negotiations continue, I am hopeful Congress will take action by passing legislation to support our small businesses.
Earlier this year, I cosponsored the RESTART Act, which targets relief to small businesses which have been most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes many small businesses in the hospitality, entertainment, tourism and lodging industries. The RESTART Act is modeled off of the highly successful Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created by Congress through the CARES Act. PPP provided forgivable loans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, who used their funding to maintain their payrolls. Approximately 185,000 small businesses in Pennsylvania utilized this program, which helped preserve approximately 100,000 local jobs.
Many local small businesses were able to access PPP, like local restaurant Mick’s All American Pub which received assistance to support 120 jobs, but continue to need support due to the impact of state regulations and the challenges presented by COVID-19.
The RESTART Act would target these forgivable loans to industries which have experienced significant drops in their income this year as compared to the period before the COVID-19 pandemic. It would also broaden the purposes that the funds could be used for like purchasing personal protective equipment, in addition to supporting payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utility payments.
The goal of the legislation is simple: to support small businesses so they remain in business, employing members of our community after we survive the challenges of COVID-19. We have already seen the headlines across our community that small businesses, including local restaurants, are closing their doors forever. Hoss’s Family Steak & Sea in Elizabethtown has closed forever. Sadly, that is true with Iron Fit Gym in Lititz, Heart Café in Marietta, and Anita’s on Walnut in Lancaster City.
I am thankful that the RESTART Act has broad bipartisan support in the House, with 179 cosponsors and with members of both parties supporting the legislation. I joined local small business owners at the Rock Lititz campus in early September for their Red Alert RESTART event, advocating on behalf of this legislation.
The PPP still has funds remaining which could support small businesses, but the program needs to be reauthorized. Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have blocked every attempt by House Republicans to reopen the program. Earlier this year, I asked for unanimous consent to bring forth legislation to allow the PPP to reopen, but my request was denied by a fellow Pennsylvania representative from the other side of the aisle.
I remain committed to supporting small businesses and am hopeful that Congress will swiftly pass the RESTART Act or support the reopening of the PPP. Main streets all across America are counting on Congress to support small businesses and the millions of Americans they employ. I am hopeful that Congress will meet this challenge.