March 18, 2020

Mass. Congressional Delegation Seeks Disaster Relief for Small Businesses Affected by Coronavirus Outbreak

Lawmakers Support State's Request for Assistance Under SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

Text of Letter (PDF)

Boston, MA - The Massachusetts congressional delegation, including Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Richard E. Neal (D-MA-01), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), William Keating (D-MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and Lori Trahan (D-MA-03), today sent a letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in support of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' request for emergency assistance under the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program made as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. If granted, the SBA's EIDL program would assist small businesses impacted by the pandemic recoup the loss of revenue and help stabilize the local economy. 

"This ongoing public health emergency has already caused significant disruption and economic harm to our constituents and is likely to continue for weeks or months to come," the lawmakers wrote. "The Small Business Administration (SBA)'s assistance in making low-interest loans available to Massachusetts small businesses is urgently needed."

On March 10, 2020, in response to community spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts, and on March 15, 2020, he issued a ban on gatherings of more than 25 people, a three-week suspension of school operations, and the closure of bars and restaurants for on-site dining. While these aggressive actions are consistent with recommendations from public health officials and designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, they will also have a devastating impact on the Commonwealth's small businesses, which often rely on entertainment and tourism to generate visitors and revenue. A survey by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency found that more than 700 businesses have already been affected, including businesses in all 14 counties.

The SBA's EIDL program makes low-interest loans of up to $2 million available to businesses affected by disasters. In their letter to Kem Fleming, Director of the SBA's Office of Disaster Assistance, the lawmakers noted the significant economic hardship faced by Massachusetts businesses in the wake of the pandemic, and urged him to swiftly issue a declaration of economic injury and make these loans available to small businesses throughout the state.

"We appreciate that SBA has already issued disaster declarations for some areas in Massachusetts, but as of this week, the economic impact of the coronavirus emergency has reached all parts of the Commonwealth," the lawmakers continued. "These crucial sources of credit can help our constituents maintain jobs and services during this unprecedented emergency."

Senator Warren has called for a $750 billion economic stimulus package that would focus on recovery from the grassroots up, not Wall Street down. Such a package would apply lessons from the 2008 bailout and provide direct help to families harmed by the coronavirus outbreak, including universal paid leave, increasing Social Security benefits by $200 a month, broad cancellation of student loan debt, and protecting and expanding affordable housing.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has worked to ensure that the Trump Administration is effectively responding to the outbreak and that the U.S. has the resources needed to address this threat. Her ongoing efforts include urging Vice President Pence to take swift, specific action to support Massachusetts and other states as they combat the spread of COVID-19; introducing legislation that would generate an estimated $10 billion in funding for coronavirus efforts by shifting funding from President Trump's border wall; and asking the CEOs of the U.S.-based "Too Big to Fail" banks how they are preparing to mitigate the economic risks of the outbreak.