People over politics on PPP funding
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Elizabeth Taylor is the founder of HR Backbone, a small business in the Houston area district that I represent. Last week she sent me a plea for help. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the multi-billion dollar federal program to keep businesses like HR Backbone afloat while COVID-19 economic restrictions remain in effect, was out of money — and Elizabeth was out of time.

“I need help to stay in business and feed my family until this crisis is over,” Elizabeth said. “One of my clients can no longer pay me and the work at my other three has diminished significantly. Please implore Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi signals flexibility on size of renewed unemployment payments Car on fire near Supreme Court Watch live: Pelosi speaks on coronavirus funding MORE and Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerHow a progressive populist appears to have toppled Engel MJ Hegar wins Democratic battle to challenge John Cornyn Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE to consider those in my situation. We need help.”

Sadly, Elizabeth’s situation is not unique. Neither is her appeal to House Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.). Less than one month ago, a final vote on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that created PPP was held up in the House due to Democratic demands that the bill include unrelated provisions for everything from climate change studies to forced early voting.

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Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and Congress passed a CARES Act that focused on the health and economic security of the American people as well as a promise from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that if the funding well on PPP runs dry “the President has made clear that … he’s going to go back to Congress.”

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that after issuing 1,661,397 loans from 4,975 lenders totaling $350 billion, PPP funds had been exhausted. Pelosi and Schumer are again putting politics over people at the negotiating table, tacking on demands unrelated to replenishing PPP funding while small businesses facing extinction are hitting a wall.

The list of impacted businesses goes on. “Our business was forced to close by local county government and faced with steep fines and jail if we tried to open,” Steve Cone of JP Bombers in Houston shared with me. “This is a no-fault-of-our-own problem and we are now facing possible bankruptcy as a result of government action. Business that are forced to close should have received first consideration for funding. This has all the ingredients of government tyranny at its finest. Forced closure of a legitimate business with no help on the other end.”

James Plimper of Assure Rx Consulting in Pearland, Texas, is also feeling abandoned by a government requiring him to alter his business due to COVID-19. “I have not let go of any employees,” he shared. “I applied for this loan a week ago. I was notified by the bank today we would not be receiving the money because the government fund has been exhausted. This money is needed for payroll to keep me from laying off staff. I feel like my company is so small I am being overlooked.”

The longer Democrats dither on providing critically needed financial support for small businesses, the sooner PPP transforms in the eyes of the American people from the “Paycheck Protection Program” into a “Partisan Political Problem.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Reports indicate a House vote on new of PPP funding could be as soon as this Wednesday — and not a moment too soon. Elizabeth Taylor, Steve Cone, James Plimper and the thousands of other small business owners who employ 58.9 million Americans need the help of Congress right now to survive this national crisis.

Pete OlsonPeter (Pete) Graham OlsonTroy Nehls wins GOP primary in competitive Texas House district 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch China must be held accountable for its egregious actions against Hong Kong MORE represents the 22nd District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives.