Schumer Floor Remarks In Advance Of Republican Senator Blocking Senate Dems’ Effort To Pass House-Passed Legislation To Reform Paycheck Protection Program

June 3, 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today took to the Senate floor with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to attempt to immediately pass the House-passed Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act to extend the program’s loan forgiveness deadline and add more flexibility to the program. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) objected to the unanimous consent motion. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:  

In a moment, I will ask consent to pass legislation that makes urgently needed reforms to the PPP to make the program much more functional for all—underlying all small businesses.

Let me just name a few of the changes.

First, it expands the loan period from eight weeks to 24 weeks. Currently, workers may be brought back for the eight weeks, but what good is it if they're then laid off at the end of that short period? It's unrealistic. And small businesses need assistance that can cover the full length of this crisis.

Second, the legislation removes the 25% restriction imposed by the Trump administration on the use of loans for fixed cost, rents, mortgages, utilities, and replaces it with a new 60-40 payroll to non-payroll expenses. This change will continue PPP support of bringing workers back on the payroll, but will give small businesses more flexibility to survive this crisis, which is essential to the long-term employment prospect of the workers.

From my home state of New York, we have high rents, high utility costs. Many businesses were frozen out when there was 25%, but 40% will get them in. And that applies to most of the more high-cost areas throughout the country, even though these are small businesses. They're struggling under those costs.

Third, the proposal extends the program to the end of the year and makes December 31st the deadline to rehire workers in order to get full forgiveness on the loan.

We have a long way to go before the economy will come back in real ways. This will give businesses a more realistic timeline to get the help they need while bringing back employees. The bill ensures any amounts of the loan not forgiven will have at least a five-year-term of repayment so small businesses won't be saddled with the needs to be repaid in two years.

The impact of this crisis is long lasting, and requires lenient terms. We have all heard from small businesses in our states that, while they're glad there's the program—they would have gone under without it, it's a very good thing—that it needed some changes to make it work for so many small businesses that had been left out or rejected. And I say to small businesses across the country: after this changes, apply again even if you applied the first time, because it will be easier to meet the requirements and criteria. 

Now, this is not controversial. The House of Representatives passed this legislation with a vote of 417-1. 417-1. And we can't wait any longer. Businesses are really suffering for lack of these changes, And to wait and wait and wait: if someone wants to make changes, let's do it when we get to the HEROES Act, to COVID-4. But to delay another week or two weeks or three weeks to get this all bollixed up? We can't afford to wait. Our small businesses can't afford to wait.

These changes are universally agreed to as good ones, and we shouldn't let someone who wants a small change say, let's stop it until we go forward. The bill has the broad support of small businesses across industries, mom and pop restaurants, underserved businesses, minority businesses, nonprofits that have been hit hard by this pandemic. It should be passed by the Senate right now.

These fixes won't solve every problem in PPP. Too many truly small underserved and minority-owned businesses and nonprofits are still struggling to get the help they need in these historically and troubled times. These fixes won't in any way diminish the urgency of passing legislation like the HEROES Act, which provides additional help not only for businesses but homeowners, renters, essential workers, medical facilities, local and state governments, and more.

Our Republican colleagues must come to the table and work with us to pass future reforms. And nor will it divert our caucus in its quest for police reform and racial justice. We have to do that as well. But today we have an opportunity to pass meaningful reforms that our small businesses need now.

We must get this done. Businesses are going under every day. Small business people who struggled and sweated—my dad was one of them—who need help and can't get help because of certain problems in this bill will be so relieved when we pass this legislation, which has already passed the House.

I want to particularly thank two people on our side who have worked long and hard on this legislation who will speak now.

One is Senator Cardin from Maryland, the Ranking Member of Small Business, and one is Senator Shaheen, the senior Senator from New Hampshire, also a very active member of the Small Business Committee.

I hope that passing this legislation in a bipartisan way as it did in the House will give us momentum to keep working on the medical, economic, and racial crises that still affect our nation.