Senate Set to Pass Coronavirus Aid Package

April 21, 2020, 1:48 PM HST · Updated April 21, 1:48 PM
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US Sen. Brian Schatz. Courtesy photo. Background image: CDC/ C.S. Goldsmith and A. Tamin

The US Senate is set to pass a new coronavirus economic recovery package today. The bipartisan deal includes billions in new funding to replenish small business relief programs, providing more Hawai‘i small businesses with a chance to access federal dollars. It also provides additional funding for health care providers and helps strengthen the nation’s testing capacity by providing millions of COVID-19 tests across the country.

“Many small businesses in Hawai‘i were unable to access the first round of PPP funding, so this additional $310 billion will help those who didn’t get their loan approved in time,” said US Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Banking Committee.

The funding includes $310 billion to replenish the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), first established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program provides small employers – including restaurants, hotels, and non-profits – with forgivable loans to maintain their existing workforce and help pay for other expenses like rent, mortgage, and utilities.

To help target smaller, family-owned businesses that were unable to access PPP funds before it ran out, the new funding also includes $60 billion specifically for small businesses and non-profits not served by a large national bank. This fund will help ensure employers in rural areas or those without an existing relationship with a large lender will have access to these funds and will no longer need to compete with larger, well-established businesses.

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In the last round of funding, 11,400 Hawai‘i small businesses and non-profits secured more than $2 billion in PPP loans, supporting 170,000 jobs across the state. The $2 billion in funding help secured by Hawai‘i banks outpaced the majority of other states in covering eligible payroll.

The bill also provides $50 billion for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which will support an additional $350 billion in disaster loans; and $10 billion for emergency advances of up to $10,000 to small businesses and non-profits harmed by COVID-19.

The deal also includes $75 billion to help hospitals, nursing homes, health centers, and health care workers across the country. The new funding is for health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to the coronavirus.

In addition, the bill contains $25 billion to increase testing capacity, including for the research, development, validation, manufacturing, purchasing, and administration of tests and testing supplies.

The deal is expected to quickly pass in the Senate and the House of Representatives and be signed into law.

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