Business owners unsure if federal loans will be forgiven

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Small business owners who took out thousands of dollars in federal loans are unsure if their debts will be forgiven.

Several business owners testified in front of the U.S. House Friday.

Jim Parker, an executive member of Main Street Alliance of New Jersey, says small businesses across the country are in big trouble if Congress doesn’t act soon.

“This is an existential threat for small businesses,” he said. “Our experience illustrates a process that has thus far been opaque, arbitrary and uneven.”

Parker and a panel, including bank lenders, urged lawmakers to expand, extend and simplify the paycheck protection program.

Otherwise, the loans, which were designed to be forgiven to help businesses, could end up putting many out of business.

“Please understand that we need your support. We need peace of mind knowing that our loans have been forgiven,” said Amy Bonfig, child care business owner.

A new report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office reveals that out of the more than 5 million PPP loans awarded, only 1% have been forgiven.

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-IL, says the problem is government red-tape.

“It’s not enough that they struggled with the economic challenges of this crisis — they now have to deal with the unnecessary complexities of determining their eligibility,” he said.

Schneider says the fix ought to be a part of a bigger bipartisan COVID-19 relief deal.

“Congress isn’t doing enough,” Schneider said.

But U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL, says small businesses don’t have time to wait for bipartisanship.

“Some small businesses need help again and there are still hundreds of billion dollars in the initial PPP program,” he said.

Davis says House Republicans have introduced their own PPP expansion plan and will try and force a vote next week.

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