Rep. Axne Urges Congressional Leadership to Include Help for Hardest-Hit Industries in COVID-19 Aid Deal
Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) urged members of Congressional leadership to consider bipartisan legislation she cosponsored to provide financial assistance for service industry businesses who are most vulnerable to long term effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
In a letter, Rep. Axne and her bipartisan House colleagues seek to have the Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty (RESTART) Act considered in ongoing negotiations over the next COVID-19 relief package.
“With large events like the Iowa State Fair and RAGBRAI cancelled, the service sector of Iowa’s economy is in for a prolonged and deeper burden from this economic downturn and pandemic,” said Rep. Axne. “I’m proud to cosponsor the RESTART Act to provide specific assistance for the restaurants, hotels, live event venues that need help keeping their bills paid – and hope that congressional leadership will recognize this bipartisan measure is a needed addition to the next aid package.”
The RESTART Act would create a new, fully guaranteed loan program to cover six months of a business’ normal expenses – including payroll and benefits, rent and utilities, and interest on mortgage payments and scheduled debt – for businesses that have lost more than 25% of their revenue due to COVID-19.
The loans would be structured to reach small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but businesses with fewer than 5,000 employees are eligible for assistance. The program would also be open to most self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and nonprofits that are struggling to cope with steep declines in revenue.
The full text of the letter can be found below:
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy:
Thank you for your efforts to find agreement on the next phase of emergency aid to help our country address the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19. As you continue these discussions, we would like to highlight the RESTART Act (H.R.7481/S.3814) for your consideration. We continue to hear from employers across a range of industries and geographies about the need for long-term support to carry them through the disruption to their businesses and organizations due to the coronavirus pandemic. The RESTART Act would provide this support, so we encourage you to include its provisions in the next round of aid so that workers in hard-hit industries will have jobs to come back to on the other side of this pandemic.
Both the House-passed Heroes Act (H.R.6800) and Senate Republicans’ Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act (S.4321) recognize that adjustments are needed to the existing set of employer aid programs in order to effectively protect the engines of our economic recovery. The bills’ changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) recognize the value of extending the availability of employer aid, as well as targeting aid to employers that have experienced measurable revenue declines. The changes to SBA’s long-standing loan programs in each bill also illustrate each chamber’s understanding of the need to provide low-interest, long-term assistance. While each of these changes would be helpful on their own, the RESTART Act provides a unified approach to addressing each of these requirements in a more comprehensive way.
The RESTART Act fills a clear need for aid that goes beyond what the PPP or SBA’s 7(a) program will be able to provide. First, RESTART provides the certainty employers need to create a long-term strategy to navigate the pandemic, with support that lasts for at least six months. Second, it targets limited resources to employers experiencing losses. Third, it reaches industries that were poorly-served by the PPP, like those that have substantial capital expenses, those that are likely to remain closed until the pandemic has abated, and seasonal businesses that have lost nearly all of their peak period income due to social distancing requirements. Each of these types of businesses has seen only partial relief from the PPP and SBA’s other existing programs. RESTART is a better fit because it targets eligibility and loan forgiveness to employers that need it most, provides long-term support, and helps employers with a broad set of operating expenses instead of focusing on payroll costs. These features have drawn support from a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, hospitality, travel, recreation, entertainment, and fitness, as well as 44 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate and more than 70 in the House. With all of this in mind, we ask that you include these provisions in the next phase of pandemic aid to keep our economy poised to quickly restart once the coronavirus threat is behind us.
Thank you for considering our request. Please contact us with any questions you have about this legislation.