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Senate Banking Committee Chair Urges Expansion of Fed’s Main Street Lending Program to Accommodate Commercial Real Estate

  • August 7, 2020

Main Street Lending Program - Federal Reserve System


Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) on July 31 submitted a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jay Powell encouraging the expansion of the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) by setting up an asset-based lending program and commercial real estate program.  (Sen. Crapo’s letter, July 31)

  • Specifically, the letter encourages the Treasury and Fed to:

    • Establish a facility to accommodate asset-based lending could open access to critical resources for several industries that could not otherwise access the MSLP based on earnings or cash flow metrics. Such asset-based lending would be predicated on pledged collateral.

    • Address the unique circumstances faced by commercial real estate, including securitized commercial mortgages, whether through access in the MSLP or a separate facility. Several options have been circulated and should be carefully considered in crafting the appropriate terms.

  • The letter also directs the Treasury and Fed to sidestep the need for an additional Congressional appropriation of funds by utilizing the remaining funds available under section 4003(b)(4) of the CARES Act intended for Federal Reserve 13(3) facilities.
  • A coalition of nine real estate industry groups, including The Real Estate Roundtable, on July 21 submitted a set of recommendations to the Senate Banking Committee aimed at improving the Fed’s MSLP for commercial real estate owners and tenants.  The committee is currently reviewing the effectiveness of the MSLP and other Fed credit lending facilities launched to counter the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis. (Real estate coalition letter, July 21 and Roundtable Weekly, July 24)
  • The MSLP became fully operational about a month ago with $600 billion in lending capacity.  Banks who participate in the program must make loans for at least $250,000, with strict requirements, and loans cannot be approved for highly-indebted companies.
  • The program to date has attracted only eight borrowers as of July 27 – according to a report released yesterday by the central bank – and been used to support only about $100 million in loans, with more in process.  (BGov, Aug 7)
  • Separately, four U.S. Senators wrote to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell this week with recommendations on reforming the Fed’s MSLP credit facilities.  (Senators’ letter, Aug. 4)
  • Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) offer specific ways the MSLP program could be amended to better serve borrowers across the nation to save millions of American jobs, including:

    • Increase the maximum debt-to-EBITDA leverage ratio that qualifies borrowers for loans.

    • Eliminate the 200% collateralization requirement in the MSPLF and increase the maximum loan amount.

    • Permit borrowers of MSLP loans to refinance debt within at least 12 months of the maturity period, revising the present prohibition on refinancing debt until it comes within 90 days of the maturity date.

The Congressional Oversight Commission held a hearing today on the MSLP.  The bipartisan commission is a five-person panel established by the CARES Act to monitor use of coronavirus aid funds. Witnesses at today’s hearing included Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President and CEO Eric Rosengren.  The Commission has released three reports, all of which are available for review at the Congressional Oversight Commission's website.

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