USA TODAY: Bennet, Young Op-Ed Highlights 8,700 Small Businesses Urging Congress to Pass RESTART Act

DENVER — Today, USA Today published an op-ed authored by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) highlighting the growing momentum for their Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty (RESTART) Act, legislation to help small businesses and nonprofits stay afloat through the end of the year and into 2021. 

Bennet and Young are pushing for inclusion of the RESTART Act in the next Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) relief package. The RESTART Act is the only bipartisan proposal of its kind—with the support of 55 bipartisan Senate cosponsors and endorsements of more than 40 trade associations. U.S. Representatives Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) introduced companion legislation in the House, and the bill continues to gain momentum.

The full op-ed is available HERE and below. 

Sens. Bennet, Young: Small businesses battered by COVID-19 need urgent help

This week, 8,706 small business owners from all 50 states wrote to Congress with an urgent message: We are running out of cash and running out of time.

Small businesses are the heart of America’s economy, but COVID-19 has pushed hundreds of thousands to the brink of failure. Two in three don’t have enough cash for three months of expenses. Half say it will take more than six months to fully recover.

This is a code red moment for small businesses. It’s why nearly 2,000 buildings across the country — from Seattle’s Space Needle to New York’s Madison Square Garden — lit up in red lights earlier this month to underscore the need for urgent action. The action they’re all calling for is clear. As Congress negotiates the next relief package, it must pass the RESTART Act.

We wrote the RESTART Act to help America’s hardest-hit businesses stay afloat and keep workers on the job through the end of the year and into 2021. It’s the only bipartisan legislation of its kind — with 55 Republican and Democratic co-sponsors in the Senate — and momentum is building across the country.

Howard Schultz, former chairman and CEO of Starbucks, led this week’s letter that thousands of small business owners and chambers of commerce signed calling for Congress to pass longer-term support like the RESTART Act.

Grammy Award-winning artists and musicians are raising awareness around the legislation to save local venues and theaters. Restaurant, brewery, salon, gym, hotel and retail shop owners have all called on Congress to pass RESTART, because they know it is the single best proposal to save their businesses.

Previous aid has run out

For these hard-hit businesses, federal relief through the Paycheck Protection Program provided a temporary respite. PPP loans covered only eight weeks of costs, a period that has come and gone, while businesses still remain months away from operating at full capacity.

Even if Congress includes additional PPP funding in the next relief package, many businesses would still be left in the lurch when that funding runs out at the end of the year. A longer-term solution is needed. Not to mention that due to restrictions in the program, many businesses wouldn’t be able to access the new funds.

That’s why we need RESTART.

Our bill would provide the hardest-hit businesses and nonprofits with new loans to cover another six months of operating costs beyond PPP. Part of the loans would be forgiven, based on revenue losses the businesses have suffered. In turn, they would have more time and flexibility to repay the loans.

For a retail company in need of working capital to reach full speed, RESTART would help buy inventory, rehire workers, purchase personal protective equipment and serve customers.

For a restaurant that can open at only half capacity due to social distancing, RESTART would help it cover fixed costs, including rent, and benefits for each employed and furloughed worker.

RESTART would even offer a lifeline to a business like an independent concert venue, which might have to stay shuttered for a longer period and remain unable to generate revenue. Such employers would receive an extended forgiveness period of 12 months so they can stay in business until operations can resume.

Provides way back to profitability

RESTART recognizes that business decisions are best left to those who run them. It does not impose artificial caps on expenses. Nor does it create arbitrary rehiring timelines. Instead, by tying forgiveness to revenue decline, RESTART would give our hardest-hit businesses a backstop against financial insecurity and a path back to growth and profitability as the economy recovers.

Without this kind of support, we risk profound damage to our economy. Half of America’s workforce works for a small business, and as many as a quarter of small businesses are at risk of failure. Closures will turn millions of temporary job losses into permanent ones.

Now is a moment to listen to the business owners and workers across the country who are urging Congress to provide this relief. Let’s act urgently to pass the RESTART Act and help fuel the resurgence of the American economy — our small businesses don’t have any more time to waste.