U.S. Senators Tina Smith, John Hoeven Lead Bipartisan Push to Treasury Department, Small Business Administration to Ensure Eligibility of Rural Electric Cooperatives in Paycheck Protection Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/22/20]—Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) led a bipartisan group of senators in urging the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to clarify that rural electric cooperatives are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support small businesses and help them maintain payroll and cover expenses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Some lenders are approving PPP loans for electric cooperatives, while other lenders are refusing to do so without further guidance from the SBA. Rural electric cooperatives have urged the SBA to clarify their inclusion in the PPP, and today Sens. Smith and Hoeven are calling on the SBA to ensure eligibility. 

“The CARES Act, and the Paycheck Protection Program in particular, was designed to provide support to small businesses across the country, many of which face significant challenges retaining employees, maintaining payroll, and covering daily expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is generally available to “any business concern” that meets SBA size standards (as well as other eligible entities). Nearly all electric cooperatives are classified as “small” businesses under SBA’s size standards, with the average distribution cooperative employing under 50 people. As these electric co-ops face the same challenges as many other small businesses, we believe the Small Business Administration should ensure they are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program,” the senators wrote in a letter to Treasury and SBA.

You can read the full letter here.

In addition to Sens. Smith and Hoeven, the letter was also by Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Roger Wicker (D-Miss.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).