Bennet, Young Announce Major New Proposals to Support Hardest-Hit Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

Proposals Include Key Fixes to PPP and Bold New RESTART Program to Support Businesses in Second Half of 2020

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) announced bold new proposals to support the small- and mid-sized businesses most affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. The Bennet-Young plan includes a new RESTART loan program to provide funding to jump-start the hardest-hit businesses for the remainder of 2020 and provide loan forgiveness as a backstop against ongoing difficulties. It would also make enhancements to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to support restaurants and other deeply affected businesses. 

“With a simple change to the Paycheck Protection Program – doubling the amount of time hard-hit businesses have to deploy their funds – we can help restaurants, gyms, mom-and-pops, and other Main Street businesses weather these difficult times,” said Bennet. “At the same time, we need a long-term strategy to help businesses ramp back up in the second half of the year and provide some assurance they’ll be able to survive the uncertainty they face. Our new RESTART Program will provide flexible funding with a longer repayment period to Main Street businesses that took a big financial hit, so they can relaunch and rehire their workers when it’s safe to do so.”

“The Paycheck Protection Program is working for many small businesses, but we know more needs to be done. The RESTART Act will go a step further by helping to provide longer-term loans to businesses and non-profits that are experiencing economic hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and our goal is to revitalize the economy and get them back to work as quickly as possible,” said Young. 

Summary of New Proposals: 

Near-Term Fix to PPP for Hardest-Hit Businesses 

Background: PPP has an 8-week “covered period” that begins immediately following the origination of a PPP loan. As funds were limited and there was much uncertainty, businesses rushed to apply and were unable to adjust the timing of their application to a point when they were actually prepared to relaunch their business. Payroll during this 8-week period is used to determine what amount of loan forgiveness a business receives. Businesses are also required to rehire their full headcount by June 30, 2020, regardless of whether their business is back up to anything near full capacity. Businesses that have already laid-off employees are having difficulty rehiring. Some businesses may be shuttered for most or even all of the 8-week period and may even be prohibited from operating at anything near full capacity by June 30, making the decision the rehire employees for a short timeframe even more difficult.  

Proposal: Bennet and Young propose a simple fix to address a shortcoming of the PPP for many of the most-affected businesses: extend the 8-week covered period to deploy PPP funds and earn loan forgiveness to 16 weeks after the loan is disbursed for the hardest-hit businesses that have seen revenues decline by at least 25%. 

Longer-Term Strategy: The RESTART Program 

Background: The PPP has worked well for some businesses, but is often less effective for the businesses that should be receiving the most assistance – the smallest businesses or those who have seen revenues decline the most. Its limited duration will also leave many of the most-affected businesses without support in the difficult months ahead. 

Proposal: Bennet and Young propose a new RESTART Program, to provide funding to cover the next 6 months of payroll, benefits, and fixed operating expenses for businesses that have taken a substantial revenue hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. A share of that loan will be forgiven based on the revenue losses suffered by the business in 2020, and the remainder can be repaid over 7 years, with no interest payments due in the first year and no principal due for the first two years. This program is designed to provide small- and medium-sized businesses with loans to get their businesses going again, and ensure that they receive loan forgiveness to help fill in a loss in revenues. 

Following are the basic terms of the program: 

Loan Terms/Amount/Eligibility:

  • 7-year loan, capped at 45% of 2019 gross receipts up to $10 million
  • 100% federal guarantee for life of the loan
  • Employment cap of 5,000, with streamlined procedures for <500 employee firms
  • No cap on loan size based on multiple of payrolls
  • Self-certify a revenue loss (25% year-over-year, for at least three-month period)
  • Interest Rates/Payment Schedule:
    • No principal payments required for 2 years
    • Fixed interest rate for first 2 years with a maximum rate of 4%
      • No interest payments due for first 12 months
      • Payments of interest only for next 12 months
    • Interest rate for years 3 to 7 is the Applicable Federal Rate (AFR) plus a spread of 250 – 450 bps, based on revenue decline
  • Restrictions on dividends/share buybacks/executive compensation for duration of loan with special rules for pass-thru entities. 

Use of Funds:

  • Businesses can borrow to pay costs for next 6 months, based on half of 2019 levels of:
    • Total payroll (up to $100k per employee)
    • Employee benefits (for both current and furloughed employees)
    • Rent
    • Utilities
    • Mortgage payments on existing mortgages as of February 15, 2020
    • Other scheduled debt service, as of February 15, 2020 

Loan Forgiveness:

  • Level of forgiveness based on loss in revenues and may be applied for within 2 years of loan origination
  • No requirement to increase staffing beyond what business conditions dictate
  • Smaller business forgiveness (<500 employees) more generous than larger businesses
    • Small Business Forgiveness based on a formula including percentage decline in revenues for Payroll + Benefits + Operating Costs.
  • Larger businesses follow same forgiveness, except for payroll (i.e. benefits and operating costs fully included but not payroll).
  • Nonprofits would have access to a loan, but would not be eligible for forgiveness. Instead, the loan terms would have a longer duration (e.g. up to 10 years) and/or a lower interest rate.  

A more detailed summary of the Bennet-Young proposal and examples can be found HERE.