Rubio, Collins propose $300 billion to help small businesses during coronavirus

Rubio: 'Every penny that they borrow and use for the purpose of keeping people employed, they will not have to pay back'

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Sen. Rubio on Capitol Hill
Sen. Rubio on Capitol Hill
Senate Small Business Committee
Last Updated:
March 18, 2020 - 11:05pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Susan Collins on Wednesday proposed $300 billion in emergency spending to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Rubio, chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, said the plan is separate from the $1,000 direct payment relief plan that the White House is touting on Capitol Hill. If passed, that measure would give individual taxpayers $1,000.

Rubio explained that the federally guaranteed loans for small businesses in the bill “will become grants if you used it for payroll and customary business” during the coronavirus crisis.

"Every penny that they borrow and use for the purpose of keeping people employed, they will not have to pay back,” the Florida lawmaker said.

Collin said the loan can be forgiven if used to sustain those workers. However, there are restrictions in the bill that bar businesses from using the money to give owners raises or increase profits.

She also said the proposed bill – the Restoring Economic Security, Confidence and User Endurance (RESCUE) Businesses Act of 2020 – if signed into law would be retroactive to March 1 and cover a six- to eight-week period.

“We’re looking at a June 30 end," she said. "Obviously, if in fact the crisis hasn’t passed by then it could conceivably be extended. But those are the parameters we're looking at right now."

Collins said the bill aims to help restaurants and hotels, in particular, which are “being adversely affected by the virus, not because their employees are inflicted with it [coronavirus] but because their business has totally dried up.”

She told a story of a hotel in Maine that lost more than 84 reservations in one day due to the cancellation of classes at a local college.

"We want to make sure that businesses that otherwise would be thriving and doing well make it through this pandemic," she said. "We want to make sure that their employees make it through this pandemic. If we do not act to help the small business sector, I predict that we will see massive layoffs and an inordinate number of small businesses shuttering their doors. They simply won't be able to survive."