Policymakers Replenish Paycheck Protection Program, Consider Framework for Larger Economic Response Package; Treasury Questions Public Companies’ PPP Loan Eligibility

A  supplemental coronavirus emergency aid measure enacted today replenishes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which ran out of money after its launch on April 3 due to high demand.  A recent Small Business Administration (SBA) report shows real estate, rental and leasing businesses were approved for 79,784 PPP loans totaling more than $10.7 billion (figures through April 16).  [Roundtable Weekly, April 17] 

  • SBA’s PPP Loan Approvals report also indicates that, through April 16, the construction sector received the most PPP loans ($44.9 billion) with health care ($39.8 billion), hotels and restaurants ($30.5 billion), and retail ($29.4 billion) also receiving significant percentages of assistance. 
  • The Roundtable on April 8 submitted an 8-Point Plan to policymakers that seeks to clarify and improve the PPP.
  • Policymakers this week have also expressed ideas for expanding the next coronavirus response package beyond individual and business relief measures.  Additional funding programs may include hazard pay for essential workers, vote-by-mail programs and funding for the U.S. Postal Service, with a total cost that could exceed the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress last month.  (Roundtable Weekly, March 27)
  • This week’s funding bill is referred to as an interim step to combat the economic impact of the pandemic as lawmakers consider a major follow-up package, generally referred to as “CARES 2.”  (The Hill, April 23)
  • Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “We will need a big, strong and active [fourth bill]. It’ll have to come very soon. The needs are large and great.”  Schumer added that funding for state and local governments is a top priority as municipalities’ tax revenues drop and city officials work to set budgets for the next fiscal year. (The Hill and Axios Cities, April 22)
  • Schumer also stated Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell is working to open up the Main Street Lending program to nonprofits and municipal governments.  (AP, April 21)
  • Additionally, Sens. Bill Cassidy, (R-LA) and Bob Menendez, (D-N.J.) on April 19 unveiled legislation that would provide a $500 billion fund to help states and local governments respond to the public health and economic crisis, while maintaining essential services. (Sen. Cassidy news release)
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is reported as stating the next bill may include some infrastructure funding to boost 5G cellular and broadband access, and incentives for manufacturers to bring PPE, pharmaceutical, and other critical infrastructure production back from China.  (POLITICO Playbook, April 24) 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) this week hedged on any endorsement of assistance to state and local governments, instead focusing on how future coronavirus-related legislation could add to the growing national debt.  “Let’s weigh this very carefully, because the future of our country in terms of the amount of debt that we’re adding up is a matter of genuine concern.”  (The Hill, April 22)

Treasury Questions Large Companies’ PPP Loan Eligibility 

Treasury and SBA updated their Frequently Asked Questions guidance on the PPP yesterday, which questions whether businesses owned by large companies, with adequate sources of liquidity to support the business’s ongoing operations, qualify for a PPP loan.  (Question # 31 from FAQs

  • The answer addresses public companies seeking PPP loans, stating “it is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification [of economic need] in good faith.”
  • Before the PPP ran out of money, approximately 150 public companies received nearly $600 million in loans from the $350 billion program, with some of those companies announcing this week that they will return the funding obtained.  (Wall Street Journal, April 23)
  • Updates to the PPP rules and guidance are available via the Treasury Department’s website (April 23 FAQ update here) and the Small Business Administration’s Covid-19 resource webpage. 

The Real Estate Roundtable’s response and resources, including policy comment letters related to the pandemic, are listed on its website.    

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High Demand Depletes Small Business Loan Program as Congress Negotiates More Funding; President Trump Announces “Guidelines to Open Up America Again”

Small Business Administration Report on the Paycheck Protection Program - April 13, 2020

The Small Business Administration (SBA) yesterday announced that the Covid-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) hit its $349 billion limit after successfully processing more than 1.6 million loans since the program launch on April 3.  The PPP – funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for small businesses struggling with the economic shocks of the pandemic – was quickly depleted as Congress continued negotiations over how to replenish funding.   (Wall Street Journal, April 16)

  • “The SBA has processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days. By law, the SBA will not be able to issue new loan approvals once the programs experience a lapse in appropriations,” according to a joint statement by the Treasury and SBA.”
  • The urgent need for Congress to move quickly to authorize additional funding for the PPP is detailed in an April 15 letter to policymakers from more than 250 industry and business groups, including The Real Estate Roundtable.   
  • The SBA this week also released its first report on loan approval details since launching the program.  Through April 13, the SBA report shows 49,000 real estate businesses and 115,000 construction businesses were approved for PPP loans.  (SBA PPP Report) See The Wall Street Journal, April 15, “Where the Stimulus Loans for Small Businesses Are Going”)
  • The Roundtable on April 8 also submitted an 8-Point Plan to clarify and improve the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) to policymakers. A coalition letter from national real estate organizations also seeks clarifications and confirmation on real estate businesses’ eligibility for the PPP.  See April 16 letter to the Treasury and SBA. 
  • Updates to the PPP rules and guidance are available via the Treasury Department’s website (April 15 FAQ update here) and the Small Business Administration’s Covid-19 resource webpage.
  • Congressional Republicans this week have emphasized that additional PPP funding should be limited to $250 billion solely for small businesses – while Democrats want to add an additional $100 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for state and local governments and more food assistance funds. (The Hill, April 16)
  • Due to coronavirus health concerns the House and Senate are currently scheduled to return to Washington on May 4.   Until then, both chambers need unanimous support to pass an additional funding package.

Re-Opening the U.S. Economy

  • President Trump yesterday announced “Guidelines to Open Up America Again” that delegates final decisions for states to lift stay at home orders or business restrictions to governors once certain criteria are met.   States would first need to demonstrate their COVID-19 cases are on downward trajectory over a 14-day period, while also establishing a system for testing health care workers before they can proceed to a phased opening.  (Guidelines document and Wall Street Journal, April 16)

President Trump on April 14 also announced the formation of various “Great American Economic Revival Groups” to gain insight on combating the economic impact of the coronavirus from leading business executives representing various economic sectors.  Among the 200 leaders from industry sector groups are 10 members of The Real Estate Roundtable.  (Full list, White House news release and  Bisnow, April 15)

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Roundtable Unveils 8-Point Plan to Improve the PPP; Roundtable Member Discusses Successful PPP Funding

8 Point Plan to Reform the Payroll Protection Program -- The Real Estate Roundtable

The Real Estate Roundtable on April 8 submitted an 8-Point Plan to clarify and improve the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) to congressional leadership, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator (SBA) Jovita Carranza.  (Roundtable Letter and 8-Point Plan)

  • The Roundtable supports the intent of the PPP in the CARES Act, and the efforts to get SBA loans to struggling individuals, families and businesses as soon as possible.
  • The CARES Act passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on March 27 established the PPP to provide financial assistance to “any” business concern that has 500 employees or less, or meets small business size standards used by SBA for its existing loan program.  Larger companies sized-out of the PPP might obtain credit support through the Federal Reserve’s new Main Street Lending Program, and its expanded Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility (TALF). (See story above for more details)
  • The Roundtable’s recommendations detailed in the “8-Point Plan to Reform the PPP” would significantly help avoid potential calamitous economic consequences for small businesses.
  • The letters to Congress, Treasury, and SBA transmitting the 8-Point Plan warn of foreclosures by lenders upon building owners who go into mortgage default because rents are not being paid to cover debt service.  The Roundtable’s plan thus supports use of PPP loans to help businesses pay rents and other operating expenses.
  • The Roundtable letter urges Congress and the Administration’s agencies to enact 8 improvements as swiftly as possible to clarify, streamline and improve the process.
  • Additionally, a coalition including The Roundtable today wrote to Fed Chair Jay Powell, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Carranza to request additional guidance on current business affiliation rules as part of the PPP.  (Coalition affiliation rules letter, April 10)
  • Among its requests, the coalition urges the policymakers to allow small businesses supported by venture capital, angel capital and private equity firm investors to access critical funding that would help retain workers and jobs during the economic fallout of this health crisis.

Since the SBA launched the program last Friday by making borrower  applications available on-line, demand for PPP loans has been intense. Challenges have included a massive influx of traffic that has brought website application sites down, confusion over specific application packages, and the technology used to process loans and approve lenders. (The Hill, April 9 and Wall Street Journal, April 10)

Roundtable Member’s Successful PPP Experience

A successful example this week of PPP funding is profiled in an interview recorded today by Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer with Roundtable member Albert Dwoskin, President and CEO of A.J. Dwoskin & Associates, Inc.   (Watch the interview here)

  • Mr. Dwoskin’s company, facing a sudden halt in rental payments due to the pandemic, immediately sought PPP funding to stabilize its capital needs and retain more than 100 employees.  “The application went in on Tuesday and was funded on Friday. We didn’t expect that,” Dwoskin says in the interview.
  • Dwoskin’s Vice President of Accounting & Finance Natalia Ostroveanu, also details the PPP loan process. “J.P. Morgan had a question as part of their review … because the number of employees on the application was different than what the report from ADP showed.  And once I explained to them the reason for that number, they were okay with it and that was yesterday morning.  Today, this morning, we already received the funds,” Ostroveanu states.

Since the SBA launched the program last Friday by making borrower  applications available on-line, demand for PPP loans has been intense. Challenges have included a massive influx of traffic that has brought website application sites down, confusion over specific application packages, and the technology used to process loans and approve lenders. (The Hill, April 9 and Wall Street Journal, April 10) 

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