Show an ad over header. AMP

Why Congress is doubling down on the small business Paycheck Protection Program

Renewing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is one of the few things Democrats and Republicans agree on and is on the short list of must-have programs for any coronavirus relief package passed by Congress before year-end. The only problem: PPP has been a major disappointment for small businesses.

What happened: While 5.2 million businesses received funding through the program, it left out many smaller mom and pop shops — disproportionately women-, minority- and immigrant-led firms. Millions ended up closing their doors.

What we're hearing: "The headline is always 'Let’s get a stimulus signed' and small business relief is part of it, but you read the fine print and what does that relief look like relative to what the need is?" says Stephen Nunes, a director at Next Street, a firm that works with small businesses and entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities

  • "Round 1 and round 2 were not successful. We have a far more inequitable small business ecosystem than we had in February, which was already an inequitable small business ecosystem."

Between the lines: Because Congress has spent most of its time since March bickering over the size of a bill, there has been little energy devoted to figuring out what should be included in a stimulus program that built on PPP's shortcomings.

  • Organizations like Next Street as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation and others advocated for programs like business rent forgiveness, tax breaks for PPE and cleaning expenses, hiring incentives, and expansion of low-interest loans and loan guarantees targeting underserved communities.
  • Those appear to have largely been left by the wayside.

On the other side: A spokesperson for Sen. Marco Rubio, chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, admits that PPP isn't perfect.

  • However, he highlights an October NBER study from conservative economists R. Glenn Hubbard and Michael R. Strain that found it "substantially increased the employment, financial health, and survival of small businesses.”
  • "PPP is the architecture. It's a program we now know is a proven method to get capital to small businesses,“ he tells Axios.

The bottom line: "At this point there is one package that seems to have bipartisan support, so the focus has to be on getting it across the finish line," Neil Bradley, chief policy officer for the Chamber, tells Axios.

  • "There will be opportunities, particularly as we head into the new year, to figure out further revisions and further assistance. But it’s difficult to understand how that’s going to happen if Congress fails to do something in this moment."

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring Houston COVID-19 vaccination site

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Keep reading... Show less

Podcast: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on the future of travel and his company

Airbnb seems to be on the precipice of a business boom, as travel is expected to surge once herd immunity is achieved.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with CEO Brian Chesky about the company's first earnings report since going public, plus what's next for Airbnb, travel and hospitality.

Biden after U.S. airstrike: Iran "can't act with impunity. Be careful"

President Biden said Friday that Thursday night's airstrike against facilities tied to an Iranian-backed militia group in Syria was meant to warn Iran that it "can't act with impunity."

Driving the news: The Pentagon said the airstrike, which was authorized by Biden, was carried out "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq" and was intended to "de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq."

Keep reading... Show less

Schiff: "Definitive" Khashoggi report sends clear message to Saudis

The report released Friday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggiwas short on evidence or new information, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells Axios that the “definitive” statement assigning responsibility to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) speaks volumes.

What he’s saying: Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says that while some intelligence couldn’t be published because of the need to protect sources and methods, “we rarely see something published that is this definitive and I think that's an important accomplishment for the administration.”

Keep reading... Show less

FDA advisory panel endorses Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID vaccine for emergency use

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less

Law enforcement groups back Biden pick for associate attorney general

Local and federal law enforcement officials are backing Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, according to letters sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Major County Sheriffs of America noted Gupta “emphasized that she does not support efforts to ‘defund the police'” and highlighted her desire to improve criminal justice through methods that include increased training for law enforcement officials.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories