PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 101
(Senate - June 01, 2020)

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[Pages S2627-S2628]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                      PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, on to another matter, I was glad to be 
able to get back home to Texas this last week, where our communities 
are slowly coming out of a coronavirus shutdown. Churches have begun 
safely welcoming worshippers, restaurants are beginning to safely seat 
customers, albeit with the appropriate social distancing, and retailers 
are now beginning to safely reopen their doors. After weeks and in some 
cases months of hunkering down, it is a welcome sign of our progress in 
the fight against the coronavirus and the first step in our economic 
recovery.
  When stay-at-home orders were first put in place, small business were 
worried--understandably so--about their ability to survive. Many said 
they couldn't survive more than a couple of weeks under those 
circumstances.
  Back in March, Fort Worth chef Tim Love described the situation as 
``Armageddon.'' He said:

       It's worse than a tornado, it's worse than a hurricane, 
     it's worse than a fire. This is going to destroy everything 
     that I have built.

  But the restaurants weren't alone; I heard similar concerns from 
countless other small business owners across nearly every sector of the 
economy--hospitality, tourism, retail, manufacturing, and the list goes 
on.
  Keeping our small businesses open means much more than having another 
restaurant to eat in or a shop to buy from on Main Street; it is one of 
the most effective ways to support our economy, by protecting those 
jobs. Across the country, small businesses have employed nearly half of 
all U.S. workers. They are the lifeblood of our local economies and 
provide critical services to each of our communities.
  Without customers coming through the front doors each day, it is hard 
to cover your business expenses and keep employees on the payroll. In 
fact, it is not just hard, it is impossible.
  Whether you are a new business just starting out or a decades-old 
community staple, the financial squeeze caused by this virus and the 
mitigation efforts that ensued are unavoidable.
  As we worked on coronavirus response legislation here in March, we 
knew that small businesses needed our support. That is why we 
established the Paycheck Protection Program and initially funded it 
with $350 billion. This funded loans that were available for these 
businesses to keep their employees on their payrolls and cover other 
necessary expenses, and if they did so, that loan would turn into a 
grant.
  It was so popular--and it's not hard to see why--and the need was so 
great that that initial funding ran out in about 2 weeks, so we wisely, 
in my opinion, decided to replenish it with another $320 billion.
  An IT and document management company in Sugar Land, TX, called 
Function 4 was one of the recipients of one of those PPP loans. One of 
the partners, Bill Patsouras, said that if it wasn't for the PPP, they 
would ``absolutely have to start letting people go.'' But instead of 
layoffs, all 89 employees of Function 4 are still employed and still 
working.
  This is a familiar story, I am sure, not just in Texas but elsewhere. 
As of May 23, small businesses in Texas have received more than 350,000 
PPP loans totaling more than $40 billion. That is an average loan size 
of less than $115,000. These are for small and medium-size businesses.
  In speaking to my community bankers last week, I learned that one 
bank had approved a loan request for as little as $300. So while the 
average loan was $115,000, some businesses needed far less than that, 
including this one loan for $300.
  No matter how large or small, these loans have allowed businesses, 
churches, nonprofits, and some of our most

[[Page S2628]]

valuable community institutions to survive. That is not to say, though, 
it was perfect--at least to start with. When it was first established, 
no one expected the rollout to be perfect. I think that would be an 
exercise in hope over experience because no government program this big 
and created this fast--and we knew both of those were important. We 
needed to go big, and we needed to deal with the need urgently. We knew 
there would be some problems. A brand-new loan program drafted and 
passed in such a short timeframe is bound to have some hiccups.
  So over the last several weeks, I have been working and talking to my 
constituents--as we all have--to identify what needs to be fixed or 
improved, what gaps need to be filled; figure out what is working, what 
isn't, and how we can make it even more effective. Well, I heard 
repeatedly that the biggest need was for flexibility in the use of 
those funds, and that is where they are needed the most.
  The main goal of the Paycheck Protection Program is right in the 
name--protecting paychecks. That is why we said that 75 percent of the 
money needed to be used for payroll; otherwise you were going to have 
to pay the money back. We said originally that the remaining 25 percent 
could be used for a range of other expenses, like rent or utilities. 
But based on the feedback I have gotten--and I am confident that I am 
not alone--we missed our mark by establishing that 75-percent 
requirement. For many who had no business because they were shut down 
as part of the mitigation efforts, their payroll expenses--they 
couldn't use the three-quarters of the loan for payroll--at least not 
in the short timeframe we allowed for. They needed to be able to spend 
more on other expenses, like rent and mortgage.
  The company owned by Tim Love, whom I mentioned a moment ago, who 
described this crisis as Armageddon, received a PPP loan and so far has 
been able to hire back 80 percent of their 490 employees. A couple of 
weeks ago, he participated in a roundtable at the White House, and he 
asked for adjustments to give businesses more flexibility. He said:

       We're not asking for more money. We're just asking for the 
     opportunity to spend it the way that you want us to spend it, 
     the way it was intended; to take care of our employees when 
     we're able to open up.

  That is precisely what we are working to do, and I hope we can get 
legislation to the President's desk this week to make those needed 
changes.
  Last week, the House passed a bill to provide that flexibility for 
small businesses to use these funds where they are needed most. This 
effort was spearheaded by a fellow member of the Texas delegation, 
Congressman Chip Roy, and it passed by a vote of 417 to 1--a rare feat 
these days in the House of Representatives.
  The bill will reduce the level of funds that must be used on payroll 
from 75 percent to 60 percent. This will make sure that the bulk of the 
funding continues to protect jobs and support workers, while giving 
businesses the flexibility they need to stay viable.
  This legislation also gives borrowers another valuable asset, and 
that is the asset of time. The PPP as originally written gave borrowers 
8 weeks to use these funds, and I have repeatedly heard from my 
constituents that 8 weeks is simply not enough. For those who received 
these loans at the outset in early April, their window to use the PPP 
loan is quickly closing, and although businesses are now just starting 
to safely reopen, it is going to take some time before we find our new 
normal.
  I don't think we want a situation where, after being back at work for 
8 weeks, employees are let go because of an administrative policy that 
makes no sense. It is completely arbitrary, and that is exactly what 
could happen if we don't act. The bill passed by the House would extend 
that period of time to 24 weeks for borrowers to use those funds. It 
will ensure that businesses and nonprofits have the time to safely 
reopen and rebuild their operations while using the PPP to help cover 
payroll and other business expenses. This would be a win-win. I rarely 
have heard from my constituents back home that we have done anything 
that has been so universally appreciated as the PPP program, or the 
Paycheck Protection Program.

  This legislation that has passed the House and I hope we will take up 
and pass this week extends the benefits of this incredible program and 
provides more stability for small businesses without spending anymore 
taxpayer dollars. It doesn't cost us anything. Giving small businesses 
and nonprofits more flexibility to use this money when and where it is 
needed is important to our long-term recovery.
  I have heard very positive feedback about these changes from the 
small business owners I represent, and I am eager to support the 
passage of the latest House bill here in the Senate.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic whip.

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