Senate Small Business Chair Marco Rubio. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Senate Republicans on Monday unveiled their opening offer for a new round of small business aid in upcoming economic relief legislation, setting off an immediate lobbying push by business groups and other advocates who said the plan was too narrow.
The proposal released by Senate Small Business Chair Marco Rubio of Florida would let businesses apply for second Paycheck Protection Program loans. The loans, which Congress created in March to avert layoffs during the pandemic, can be converted to grants if employers agree to maintain payroll. Under the GOP plan, Congress would provide $190 billion for the loans. It would also make available funding for separate low-interest loans that could be paid back over 20 years, to provide working capital and refinance existing debt.
The proposed continuation of economic aid is a victory for business groups, as employers face a dire outlook with Covid-19 cases on the rise and swaths of the economy on the brink of shutting down once again. But trade associations planned to push back on restrictions that Rubio wants to impose on the aid. He would set new curbs on businesses that can apply for second loans, limiting them to firms that have 300 employees or fewer, down from the program’s original 500-employee cap, and that show a 50 percent revenue decline from last year.
Trade groups including the National Restaurant