Commentary by Susan W. Brooks
This month, the State of Indiana has issued unemployment claim benefits to over 430,000 unemployed Hoosiers. Statistically, half of our workforce is employed by small businesses. That is why it is of utmost importance that we help our small business employees and employers during this pandemic. After all, small businesses are the backbone of our economy.
Congress acted swiftly to provide relief to American workers and small businesses affected by COVID-19. I flew to Washington D.C. on March 27th to support the CARES Act, which provided $350 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses. This Paycheck Protection Program covers 8 weeks of payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent and utilities. These forgivable loans are administered by our local banks and credit unions and backed by the Small Business Administration.
This program has been working to help our hardworking Hoosier small businesses stay afloat and retain their employees. The funds officially ran out on April 16. I know these loans are helping Fifth District Hoosiers, both employers and employees of small businesses. My office has received hundreds of phone calls from employers asking for assistance throughout the application process.
Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin asked Congress last Friday to increase PPP funding by $250 billion, because the federal government knew it was only a matter of days before this crucial funding ran out.
More than 22 million Americans have lost their jobs to this pandemic, in addition to the lives that we have lost. It is critical that we replenish the fund to support hardworking Americans who want to get back on the job.
The Senate Republicans are trying to replenish the funds but unfortunately the Senate Democrats are blocking the passage of legislation that would do so. The most important thing the federal government can do right now is act immediately, and pass legislation to allow our small businesses to access the financial resources they need to continue sending paychecks to employees.
Check my daily updated COVID-19 webpage on susanwbrooks.house.gov for more information.
Hoosiers, please stay safe and healthy. Keep up social distancing to protect our most vulnerable. We are all #INthistogether.
Susan W. Brooks is a Carmel resident and represents Indiana’s 5th District in Congress.