U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) this evening held an urgent conference call with representatives of over a dozen Virginia lending institutions to discuss questions and concerns about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan program. The program, established by the CARES Act to support small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, will begin accepting applications tomorrow morning.
“The clear intent of Congress in creating this program was to make this the simplest, easiest, fastest loan small business owners have ever gotten so they get the help they need right away. We urge lenders to do all they can to help small businesses in need. Millions of people are depending on them.
“The Small Business Administration and Department of Treasury must clarify their guidelines with all possible haste to be ready to support the small businesses which make up the backbone of the American economy. Without a clear application process and strong directives from the federal government, the PPP loan program tomorrow will descend into chaos and bedlam. That must not happen.”
One lender predicted to the Representatives that tomorrow would be “one of the craziest days in the history of modern banking.” Another said that because of a lack of guidance from the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department lenders “don’t understand the program.”
The major concerns lenders expressed to the Members of Congress revolved around the lack of public awareness about the circumstances under which PPP loans would be forgiven, who would make the determination on loan forgiveness, and the extent to which the federal government would shield lenders from risks incurred by such loans.
The Members of Congress, who serve on relevant committees of jurisdiction, responded by emphasizing heavily that Congress’ goal in creating the PPP loan program was to allow small businesses to make payroll, protect workers, and survive the economic crisis. They strongly encouraging lenders to do all they can to support small businesses in need, and to inform them of fixes needed in the law to ensure its success.