Congress had been at loggerheads for months over another stimulus bill, with Democrats pushing for assistance for state and local governments. The GOP insisted on liability protections as well as a smaller bill that the version sought by Democrats.
The election also played a role with President Trump not pushing for a deal on a consistent basis.
It includes two proposals first introduced by Senator Coons: $284 billion for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans-to-grants – aimed at businesses hit hard by the pandemic – and a $3.5 billion extension of the Small Business Debt Relief Program, which has already delivered $8 billion in debt relief, automatically, to credit-constrained small businesses including nearly 900 in Delaware.
The package also supports Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which are private financial lenders that deliver lending to low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities. Over 300 CDFIs have served as PPP lenders, helping to reach some of the hardest-hit minority-owned small businesses, Coons’ office stated.
“Small business owners across Delaware and the country have been fighting to preserve jobs in their communities, without badly needed help for too long. Finally, Congress has the opportunity to enact a bipartisan bill with robust additional aid for Main Street. In particular, I applaud the bipartisan negotiators for including a second round of forgivable loans for hard-hit business, and for extending the successful SBA debt relief program,” said Senator Coons, a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
According to Coons, a Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program will allow for a second PPP loan to any small business or nonprofit with 300 or fewer employees that experienced substantial revenue decline during one quarter of 2020. The relief package also makes program improvements to PPP, simplifying the forgiveness process and ensuring that no borrower loses any tax deductions as a result of participating in PPP.
The PPP has been criticized for offering funds to larger businesses with strong relationships with banks that in the early stages processed many of the loan-grants. Some banks, were accused of putting a higher priority on larger loans, leaving smaller customers to fend for themselves.
More recently, the program has been criticized for tax liabilities and the complexities of forgiving loans.
The extension of the Small Business Debt Relief Program will provide additional payments of principal and interest for small businesses with an SBA-backed loan.
The broader $900 billion bipartisan deal also includes a $300 per week federal Unemployment Insurance supplement to weekly state benefits, $25 billion in rental assistance, $10 billion for child care assistance, $69 billion for direct pandemic response and health care systems, and $166 billion for stimulus checks of up to $600 per individual.
A vote is expected in the Senate as early as Monday, Dec. 21.