Lofgren Testimony to Small Business Committee on COVID-19 Response

April 23, 2020
Press Release

SAN JOSE, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) submitted the below testimony to the House Committee on Small Business during a Member Day hearing on COVID-19 Response and Recovery:

“Thank you Chairwoman Velazquez and Ranking Member Chabot for facilitating this Member Day during this trying time for our country’s small businesses. As you may know, my district was one of the earliest hit by COVID-19 in the country. More than 2,500 small business owners and constituents in Santa Clara County have contacted me to share the financial hardships they are facing during these challenging times.

“In March, Congress crafted the CARES Act so American small businesses would get much-needed relief as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, since the law went into effect, there have been serious rollout flaws for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), leaving many vulnerable small businesses shortchanged and millions of families concerned about their livelihood.

“My constituents are extremely disheartened by reports that large businesses received large chunks of funding while they, truly small businesses in every sense of the word, were shut out. I’ve heard from dozens of business owners who applied the moment the application process opened up and are puzzled as to why they never made it beyond the initial interest application stage before the funding ran out almost two weeks later. They rightfully suggest that Congress works to prioritize robust oversight. Namely, we must ensure banks process applications equally and fairly.

“By considering capping loan sizes, better defining what constitutes a ‘small business,’ and weighing true need and pre-existing means, Congress can work to rectify some top concerns in Santa Clara County.

“During the flawed PPP rollout, my office continually heard about heightened anxiety due to a lack of clear communication from government institutions, banks, and lenders. We need streamlined application processes that are properly communicated to our constituents, without forcing them to repeatedly re-apply for the same programs if they were diligent about requesting their business loans upfront. Thereafter, when funding allocations are provided, they need to be publicly available. The reported uneven discrepancies between funding amounts for states of different population sizes with different immediate needs are very concerning, and the lack of transparency amplifies those fears.

“I’m sharing these concerns from California’s 19th Congressional District today as many of these issues are likely echoed throughout the country, and Congress must seek to fix these problems in the bill we’re looking to pass this week and in future legislation. We have a long way to go to actually assist small businesses who are struggling during this unprecedented pandemic, and I look forward to working with this Committee on efforts to keep Main Street afloat.”

On April 16, 2020, Lofgren commented on the ongoing negotiations regarding the Paycheck Protection Program.

On March 27, 2020, Lofgren announced her support for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.