WASHINGTON, D.C. [05/14/20]—Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said that the U.S. Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have heeded their bipartisan call to make rural electric cooperatives with fewer than 500 employees eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Last month, Sens. Smith and Hoeven led a bipartisan group of senators in urging the U.S. Department of the Treasury and SBA to support rural electric cooperatives and ensure their access to the 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 pandemic. Click here to read the Senators’ letter.

I pushed the Treasury Department to make this important change because rural electric cooperatives are central to the well-being of the communities they serve,” said Sen. Smith. “Rural electric coops—like so many businesses, families, and health care systems right now—are struggling, and I’m glad that this will make it possible for them to access the Paycheck Protection Program and keep their workers on payroll. This is welcome news for so many rural electric coops in Minnesota.”

“The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help small businesses and their employees weather this public health emergency,” said Sen. Hoeven. “We appreciate the Administration, in particular Deputy Secretary Justin Muzinich and his staff, for working with us to ensure that rural electric cooperatives are eligible to receive PPP funding. Rural electric cooperatives provide vital services in their communities, which is why we worked to provide them with this support during these challenging times.”

“Electric cooperatives face immediate, significant and growing economic impacts from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Jim Matheson, CEO at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “This clarification is vital for electric cooperatives that are looking to the Paycheck Protection Program for support as they work to keep the lights on and provide local families and businesses with certainty in an uncertain time. We thank Senators Hoeven, Smith, and many of their colleagues for their instrumental role in securing this needed clarity.”

You can read the U.S. Treasury Department’s new rule here