Congress has established the details of new coronavirus relief bill this Wednesday, and unanimously passed a $2 trillion emergency relief package (also known as HR 748/the “CARES” Act) as economic support for small businesses, health care industry and struggling sectors of the economy in response to the growing coronavirus outbreak. This relief bill is the third legislative package to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus relief bill provides direct cash payments, loan guarantees for impacted businesses and resources to test and develop vaccines for the covid19.
The coronavirus outbreak has significantly affected small businesses, causing them to close down or curbing working hours. Most small businesses are unable to make ends meet since people are restricted to their homes and income is inadequate. The need for such relief bill in the form of grants and low-interest business loans is unparalleled in its complexity and extent.
Having said that, it’s critical to understand how this new coronavirus relief bill will affect small businesses and how it will be allocated for small businesses by the federal government. Here is an overview of this relief bill and the impact on small businesses.
Small Business Loans for Affected Businesses
The relief bill includes more than $350 billion allocated specifically as small business loans for businesses affected by the covid-19 outbreak. The distribution of small business loans is outlined under the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act as part of the bigger CARES Act.
Paycheck Protection Program
Paycheck Protection Program is the new initiative under the SBA 7(a) loan program and most funding will go towards it. According to this program, $350 billion will be allocated to small business owners, self-employed individuals, nonprofits, gig economy workers, and tribal businesses.
These small business loans will be instantly available through current SBA-certified lenders, and the SBA will continue to bring additional lenders into the program.
According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the Paycheck Protection Program is created to provide cash flow for eight weeks via 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who preserve their workforce during this emergency period (from February 15, 2020, to June 30, 2020). While preserving the workforce, the loan is used to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest payments, and utilities.
The loan size would equal 250% of an employer’s average monthly salary, with a maximum loan amount of $10 million and the payroll costs will include salary, wages, cash tips, insurance premiums and covered leave. There are no prepayment penalties and the costs of participation are reduced due to fee waivers. The automatic deferment of payments is up to one year, and no credit test, personal guarantee, or collateral will be required. The SBA Express loan amounts increased from $350,000 to $1 million and the interest rates will not exceed 4% during the emergency period.
Emergency EIDL Grants
The amount of $10 billion will be allocated to the SBA’s Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program. This will allow for extended entitlement for businesses experiencing financial difficulty due to the coronavirus and provides the SBA more flexibility to distribute small-dollar loans directly. Small businesses can also apply for an emergency grant of $10,000 to help cover payroll, provide sick leave, and oblige other debt obligations. The emergency loan will be delivered within three days of approval.
Small Business Debt Relief
With the help of the Small Business Debt Relief Program, affected businesses can secure $17 billion to pay all the principal, interest, and fees on their existing SBA loan products for six months.
Funding to SBA Resource Partners
The SBA resource partners, including Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and Minority Business Centers will also get funding so they can provide counseling, education, and technical assistance to affected businesses.
Expanded Unemployment Benefits
The major cause of coronavirus outbreak is the major layoff of employees from businesses. Most businesses were unable to sustain their workforce due to cash flow crises caused by the coronavirus outbreak. As part of this bill, the unemployment insurance program is extended for laid-off workers that will allow for four months of “full pay, with the maximum unemployment insurance benefit up to $600 per week. The benefit applies to traditional business workers along with self-employed and gig economy workers. The purpose of this benefit is to help American workers endure the layoff until businesses become sustainable and are able to hire them back.
When the New Relief Bill Takes Effect?
The Senate leaders have passed the bill and submitted its version on March 25. But, the House is expected to vote on the bill, yet.
According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House will take up the legislation with strong bipartisan support. The bill will reach President Trump’s desk for legislation signing after the House passes the bill collectively. Most of the House Republicans leaders are commending their members to vote in favor of the bill. Once it is passed, the funds will be released to struggling industries, direct cash payments to Americans with a significant boost to unemployment insurance.