U.S. Senator Tina Smith Says Latest Coronavirus Relief Package To Replenish Small Business Loan Fund, Also Adds Money For Hospitals and Testing

WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/21/20]— U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said the $470 billion coronavirus relief package which passed the Senate today will provide an additional $370 billion in urgently-needed emergency loans and grants for hard-hit small businesses in Minnesota and across the country. It also targets $75 billion to help hospitals handle the surge in infections and $25 billion to dramatically improve the nation’s coronavirus testing capabilities.

Sen. Smith said she strongly supported the effort to provide additional and urgently-needed help to Minnesota small businesses who have yet to receive it, but said Congress may have to provide even more assistance if the funding in the package doesn’t cover current needs.  She said the measure will also help hospitals meet the continued need for resources and will fund efforts to expand testing, which will be key to understanding how widespread the contagion is in communities and how quickly Minnesota and other states can re-open their economies. 

“While this package replenishes the small business loan fund and sends needed resources to hospitals, I don’t think our work responding to this pandemic is done,” Sen. Smith said. “I will continue to work to ensure that small businesses and small rural hospitals who haven’t been able to access emergency loans can get help they need to get through this crisis.  The money for testing will allow us to better understand the breadth of this pandemic and hopefully push the Trump administration to finally put in place a coordinated testing plan that health experts tell us is essential to getting our economy reopened.”

The funding for small businesses will be added to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) “Paycheck Protection Program” (PPP), which was created in March as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package.  The PPP has already helped businesses across the nation, including more than 46,300 Minnesota small businesses who have been approved for forgivable loans totaling $9 billion.  The program recently ran out of funds and today’s package added funding to allow it to continue. 

Testing is Key to Reopening Economy

For several weeks, Sen. Smith has pushed the Administration to dramatically ramp up testing across the nation.  In March her provision to make all coronavirus testing free was signed into law as part of coronavirus relief legislation.  This month, she led an effort – joined by 45 Senate Democrats – to push Vice President Mike Pence and the Administration’s Coronavirus Task Force to come up with a public plan to find the gaps in the nation’s testing procedures and to fill them.

The package passed Tuesday includes:

  • $310 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, with
    • $30 billion reserved for loans by community-based lenders, small banks, CDFIs, and credit unions, plus
    • $30 billion reserved for loans by mid-sized banks and credit unions
  • $50 billion for SBA emergency disaster lending (EIDL), includes eligibility for agricultural businesses
  • $10 billion for SBA emergency economic assistance grants
  • $75 billion for hospitals
  • $25 billion for testing

The measure is expected to be passed by the House and enacted into law later this week.