Lawmakers call for small business aid at all levels of government


Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called for increased government action to aid small businesses as they increasingly offer online sales and services to weather the coronavirus recession.

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), co-chair of the Smart Cities Caucus, stressed that governments at all levels must act swiftly to help struggling firms.

“All levels of government have a responsibility and obligation to facilitate a healthy small business climate,” Clarke said at The Hill’s “Ecommerce & the American Small Business” event.

“Our concern is that we have to undergird the economy by which our nation is faltering right now, whether it’s high unemployment or the ability for customers to help support our small business sector by having the means to do so,” she told The Hill’s Steve Clemons.

Nearly 110,000 small businesses closed due to coronavirus financial constraints between March and May, and the U.S. labor force has gained back less than the nearly 22 million jobs lost since the pandemic took hold.

The unemployment rate in August was 8.4 percent, a decline from the 14.7 percent post-Depression high in April but more than double the 3.5 percent rate before coronavirus lockdowns were imposed at the state and local level.

To counter some of those losses, Congress passed legislation in the spring setting up the Paycheck Protection Program, which provided emergency loans to nearly 700,000 businesses between March and July.

But Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Small Business Committee, noted that many small businesses were not able to immediately access the loans.

“It took an extra round of funding and $60 billion to ensure that the credit unions and local banks that have a long-standing, working relationship with these businesses were able to give them funding,” he said at Monday’s event sponsored by eBay.

“We may have to provide capital dollars to places like restaurants and others that do business indoors so they have the capacity to build the systems that will ensure safety to their consumer base and will give the confidence back to their clients and customers to come back inside,” Espaillat added.

Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), another member of the Small Business Committee who participated in Monday’s event, said Congress could be doing more if “politics” weren’t getting in the way.

“We shouldn’t be playing politics with jobs in America,” he said.

Tags Adriano Espaillat Coronavirus eBay Kevin Hern Pandemic Paycheck Protection Program Small business Unemployment Yvette Clarke

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