All four Iowans serving in the U.S. House have voted for a plan to plug more money into the small business loan program that ran out of money last week.
Democratic Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque notes $60 billion in the bill is reserved for community-based banks and credit unions.
“These are the ones that are out there lending to our ‘small’ small businesses, the ones who need not just a $1 million, or might need $10,000 or $15,000 to keep maybe it’s five employees employed in and on the payroll,” Finkenauer said. “And, to be frank, those were the ones that were being left out in the last package.”
The “Paycheck Protection Program” was designed to help small businesses with fewer than 500 employees keep making payroll, but a loophole let large hotel and restaurant chains get loans.
Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat from West Des Moines, said the $60 billion reserved for community banks will provide loans to the kind of “mom-and-pop” businesses that are crucial in rural Iowa.
“Our one and two person owned shops on Main Streets in our communities, our restaurants, individual contractors,” Axne said, “those types of people need the funding.”
The bill also provides $75 billion for hospitals.
“They’re laying people off,” Axne said. “They don’t know how they’re going to cover their operating expenses because there aren’t elective surgeries and things like that happening, so we’ve got to shore those up so they can keep their doors open.”
Republican Congressman Steve King of Kirson said the $25 billion for expanded COVID-19 testing is important part of the package, because testing “will help determine the best methods for reopening the economy.”
The total price tag for the package is $484 billion. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested it may be time to quit adding to the federal deficit. Congresswoman Finkenauer said while the debt is obviously a concern, shoring up the economy is a higher priority right now.
“We are in a horrible situation where our working families and Americans all across the country and locally are scared and need assistance,” she said, “and this is the time when the federal government should be stepping up.”
Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Iowa City, says he’s pleased the House and Senate came together “in a bipartisan way” to send the bill to President Trump. Iowa Republicans Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst voted for the package when it passed the U.S. Senate earlier this week.
(Mike Petersen, KMA, Shenandoah contributed to this story)