April 06, 2020

Warren, Markey Seek Urgent Fix to New Coronavirus Small Business Relief Program

Desperate Small Businesses Need Immediate Help But Delays and Confusion Mark Program Kickoff

Senators Call for Clear Guidance To Ensure All Small Businesses Have Equal and Expedient Access to Funding  

Text of the Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC -  United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today wrote to Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to act quickly to ensure small businesses in Massachusetts and across the country get the help they need. Senators Warren and Markey expressed concern that SBA and Treasury have been unable to quickly set up the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) established by the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act. 

"We urge you to move quickly to issue additional guidelines and clarifications to ensure that loans are disbursed quickly, that all businesses can participate and that lenders give mom and pop businesses the same access to loans that they give their more sophisticated small business clients. All small businesses need to have equal access to this help," wrote Senators Warren and Markey

As a result of  delay in guidance from the federal government, banks were unable to prepare their systems to start accepting applications when the program opened. Community bankers wrote to the SBA and Treasury that nearly two days after the PPP has been live, "hundreds of lenders are still trying to get approval to access the SBA system so they can process loans" and that both "existing SBA lenders and non-SBA lenders are experiencing massive delays and inability to process loans or even access the SBA to become an SBA lender." Large banks also reported a series of problems and delays

The ability of small businesses to access this money in a matter of days could determine whether or not they will need to shut their doors to their employees and customers forever. Senators Warren and Markey urged Administrator Carranza and Secretary Mnuchin to fix the existing operational and technological problems with the system, provide additional guidance to banks that clarifies any remaining  questions, and act quickly to stand up this program so it works the way that Congress intended. They also asked if any additional action from Congress is necessary to address the issues with this program and, if so, that SBA and Treasury lay out the legislative fixes necessary to provide this vital aid. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has pressed the Trump administration to deliver the robust set of resources needed to address this emergency and worked to ensure Massachusetts can get the help it needs -- including the Commonwealth's small businesses. On March 26th, Senator Warren joined Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh on a conference call with Boston small business owners to share details of the relief for small businesses in the latest legislative package. She held a similar call with small businesses across the Commonwealth the same day. Senators Warren and Markey shared information and resources for small businesses impacted by coronavirus. Senator Warren also called on Congress to do more to help small businesses survive this crisis.