Hurd on the Hill: Tools to Get Americans Through The COVID-19 Pandemic

Small businesses feed, clothe and provide services to our community. They help us thrive, and they employ our friends, family and neighbors. But, today, so many of our small businesses are facing a challenging time because COVID-19 has and will continue to wreak havoc on our entire economy.

Many of us have taken the difficult, but essential decision to social-distance ourselves in order to help slow the spread of this deadly virus. We have forgone our usual daily activities, like going to work and school, dining out at our favorite restaurants, visiting our corner coffee spot or going to our favorite shops. These decisions may seem like inconveniences to us, but they translate into so much more for the small businesses themselves, which are struggling. The entire business model for many of these community stores and restaurants are seemingly void until COVID-19 ceases to threaten the United States and our way of life.

While the normal business model isn’t working like it traditionally would, there is hope for many of these stores. Besides turning to online orders, store-pick up or other delivery options, these businesses can also use some of the resources Congress has created to provide financial relief and hope.

The bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act created tax credits to help businesses afford the reality of employees taking sick time or family leave due to school closures. These credits are for business with 51 to 500 employees to provide paid sick leave and paid family leave to their employees. The government, in exchange, will provide a refundable payroll tax credit to employers to cover 100 percent of the cost of wages. Another piece of this legislation that can help the more than 8,400 small businesses in TX-23 are low-interest disaster loans. Congress provided the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) with the authorization to provide an estimated $7 billion in these loans to small businesses.

On Friday, the Small Business Administration extended its Economic Injury Disaster Declaration to include the entire State of Texas. This designation opens the process for Texas small businesses to apply for loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. These loans can help small businesses, agricultural corporations, and private or non-profit organizations by providing low interest loans to help businesses recover. There are eligibility requirements, and the loan amount and interest level may vary, but the bottom-line is: There is a financial resource available for businesses that help our communities every day.

To get information on how to apply visit sba.gov/coronavirus or call: 1-800-659-2955.

For workers that are concerned because their company had to let them go, there are also resources. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gave state governments an incentive to ease unemployment benefits—something Governor Abbott has done here in Texas by waiving the one week waiting period and temporarily rescinding some of the requirements to receive unemployment. This will allow for families who are hurting to gain financial assistance faster. Student loan interest has been deferred as well, and some people may be eligible to defer their tax payments.

I have heard from and understand the concerns of small business owners and all Texans. At the publishing of this article, the House of Representatives and Senate are involved in negotiations to pass a third round of relief. The goal is to help people that are unemployed, make sure we can keep people employed and ensure we have a robust economy when this pandemic is over.

The damaging health phase of coronavirus is far from over, so families everywhere need to keep following guidelines from government officials to keep themselves healthy and slow the spread of this deadly virus. We are in a dark, long tunnel, but we know the tunnel will end. To get to the light at the end as fast as we can, we must recognize we are in this together, and, by working together, we will get through this.

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