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Phillips Small Business PPP Flexibility Act Passes House in Overwhelming Bipartisan Vote

 — Today, the House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, authored by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), in a strong bipartisan vote of 417-1. Phillips and co-author Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) praised the passage of his bill, which will provide critical reforms to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a critical source of aid for small businesses during the coronavirus epidemic.

“At its core, Representation begins with listening,” Dean Phillips said in a speech on the House floor. “Our small business owners, the institutions of our main streets and the glue of our communities, are asking us to take actions to solve problems and engage in some good old fashioned teamwork … This bill will help people in the ways that they need, and we haven’t a moment to lose.”

The bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act was endorsed by a coalition of 55 organizations and will create more flexibility for small businesses by:

  • Extending the expense forgiveness period from eight weeks to twenty-four weeks
  • Reducing the 75 percent payroll ratio requirement
  • Eliminating 2-year loan repayment restrictions for future borrowers
  • Allowing payroll tax deferment for PPP recipients
  • Extending the June 30 rehiring deadline

The bill is the culmination of listening, action, and collaboration by Phillips. After countless conversations with small business owners in Minnesota and across the nation, public advocacy to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchintestimony before the House Small Business Committee, and bipartisan collaboration in Congress, the passage of the PPPFA will put Congress closer to ensuring hastily-designed federal relief programs work better for American small businesses owners who so desperately need them.

Click here to watch Rep. Phillips’s remarks before passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

Rep. Phillips’s remarks as prepared:

I will spend my time today letting my constituents speak for themselves:

For more than 43 years, Minnesotans have celebrated birthdays and little league wins over burgers and cheese curds at Lion’s Tap, a family-owned restaurant in Eden Prairie, until COVID-19 changed everything.

My team spoke with Bert, owner of Lion’s Tap, and when we asked for feedback about his experience with the Payroll Protection Program, he said this: “We definitely need the PPP. The problem is that because our business is a restaurant, we are not able to open it up fully where we could hire our entire staff back under the conditions of the loan. It is imperative that we are allowed forgiveness for expenses beyond the original eight-week period. We also need to loosen up the restrictions of non-payroll expenses beyond the 25%. The complexities of balancing staying open or closing will be determined by what the government will be able to change on the PPP in this bill.”

And Bert’s not alone.

On a Zoom call last month, a barber who rents a chair in a Brooklyn Park salon told me the same thing.

I also talked with Mike who owns a few hotels in Minnesota and is being forced to make lose-lose decisions about how to pay his employees and his mortgage while their rooms sit empty. Here’s what Mike said: “The government stepped in with the Paycheck Protection Program, but it was a one-size-fits-all approach that didn’t really help industries like hospitality. We could pay our employees but not our mortgages. The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act will do for small businesses what the PPP could not.”

John from Maple Grove owns a handful of beloved wood-fired pizza joints in Minnesota and is feeling the heat from a lengthening crisis. He told me: “We are very appreciative of the PPP loan we received but would have no way to qualify for any material forgiveness given the impossibly of rehiring our entire workforce while our stores are closed. If the loan is not forgiven, we do not foresee our business returning to any meaningful positive cash flow until a vaccine is developed or the virus impact weakens and would likely not have funds to repay any loan principal in that time.”

And Justin who has a small gym in Chanhassen, and Ryan who owns Frenchie’s Nail Salon are reporting the same problems.

The outpouring of feedback has been as clear as it is enormous. You see, my colleagues, today isn’t about us. It’s not about which side secures the biggest win, or who gets credit. It’s about delivering the relief that small business owners across Minnesota and this nation are asking for.

It’s about doing our job.

At its core, representation begins with listening, and these stories paint a clear picture. Our small business owners, the institutions on our main streets, and the glue of communities, are asking us to take bold action, to solve problems, and to engage in some good old-fashioned teamwork.

I’m grateful to Congressman Chip Roy for joining me in that spirit as the co-author of this bill, and to the growing coalition of support we’ve built around the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act. This bill will help people in the ways THEY need, and we haven’t a moment to lose.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, listen to the millions of our country’s shopkeepers, innovators, entrepreneurs and small business owners of this country, or listen to our 11 million restaurant employees.

Or just take it from Bert, the owner of the Lion’s Tap: “The heartbeat of America is small business, and we need your help to survive.”