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Pingree, Pappas Introduces Legislation to Support Maine’s 145,000 Small Business, Provide Cash Advances and Zero-Interest Loans

Washington, March 23, 2020

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today joined Congressman Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and nine other House members in introducing the Too Small to Fail Act, legislation to help small businesses, nonprofits, and Maine workers who are facing unprecedented economic uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic. Full text of the bill can be found here.

“Maine 145,000 small businesses already operate on thin margins, and this pandemic is making it even more difficult for our small businesses to stay afloat and continue to support our communities,” said Pingree. “During this time, political leaders need to do everything within our power to help these establishments bridge the gap, including offering zero-interest loans and offering direct, targeted support. I’m proud to join Congressman Pappas in introducing legislation that would empower local businesses in these uncertain times.”

“New Hampshire's small businesses are the backbone of our economy. But business as usual has been all but obliterated on Main Street in the Granite State and across the country. That is why I have introduced legislation to help small businesses and nonprofits weather this unprecedented crisis by getting them the direct support and relief they need and that they have been calling for,” said Congressman Pappas. “This legislation aims to help businesses get back up on their feet as quickly as possible with zero-interest loans, grants to help them stay afloat, and loan repayment relief. We must meet this moment with swift action and every available resource to help New Hampshire’s small businesses keep their lights on, pay their workers, and recover and thrive in the weeks and months ahead.”

The bill would make available zero-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to small businesses and nonprofits affected by the coronavirus outbreak to help keep their doors open and meet their ongoing obligations. The legislation will also allow for up to $15,000 in grants for small businesses, distributed within three days after a business or nonprofit applies for an EIDL, so that they can receive immediate relief. In addition, the bill will empower the Small Business Administration (SBA) to defer payments on existing federal loans.

Specifically, this legislation will:

  • Dramatically expand the availability of zero-interest, zero-fee loans to affected small businesses by lowering the Economic Injury Disaster Loans interest rate to small businesses and nonprofits at 0% interest and provide at least $350 billion in loan authority to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Authorizes SBA to provide up to $15,000 in grant funding for each small business or non-profit that applies for an EIDL loan, to be distributed within three days.
  • Provide debt repayment relief for small businesses by giving the Small Business Administrator broad authority to defer payments on existing SBA loans for affected businesses.
  • Waive the so-called “credit elsewhere” requirement for all affected small businesses, which currently limits SBA loan eligibility to businesses that would not otherwise have access to credit.
  • Ensure sufficient funds to cover the administrative cost of this effort.

Pingree has been active in coronavirus response efforts in Congress and in Maine. She has pushed federal leaders for support of small businesses across Maine; following her letter with the Maine delegation to the SBA in support of Governor Mills’ request, SBA approved Maine’s eligibility for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program. Pingree’s work responding to coronavirus can be found at pingree.house.gov/coronavirus.

 

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