Senators demand “immediate action” from SBA to avoid delay in our steps

Almost six months after Congress enacted the $ 16 billion Save Our Stages law, less than 100 of the nearly 5,000 struggling independent sites have been approved for financial aid, according to its most recent report, released. on June 9 by the Small Business Administration, which distributes the loans. The site’s sources told Variety that only “a few” actually received the money.

This shocking and dysfunctional state of affairs – which included broken websites and tons of bureaucracy, including site owners falsely told they had been ruled dead by SBA research – contrasts with the original agenda of $ 800 billion paycheck protection and the most recent $ 29 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which provided relief funds to businesses within days.

While the The SBA took late action last week to improve the situation, by transferring the management of its Disaster Assistance Office to a group in its Capital Access Office, which coordinated the PPP and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. But the sites are closing as they wait for the relief money they should have had months ago.

It took eight months of intense lobbying to pass Save Our Stages – which was drafted by Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Cornyn and sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and dozens of members of Congress. And on Tuesday, Klobuchar and Cornyn wrote a letter to SBA chief Isabella Guzman, imploring her to “take immediate action to ensure that aid reaches eligible applicants without further delay.” (The full list of co-signers is shown at the bottom of the letter below.)

While its language is less inflammatory than that of a letter sent by Arizona Congressman Greg Stanton last week – which read in part: “So far the deployment and execution of the grants program by the SBA were a disaster… What can I say [his constituents] to explain why the SBA cannot organize itself? – he does not insist by criticizing the SBA’s “insistence on strict compliance”, “unnecessary delays”, “restrictions on communication with grant applicants” and the “bureaucratic process”. (Read the letter in full below.)

The incompetence of the Small Business Administration actually helps big companies: venues owned by giant corporations like Live Nation and AEG have already started to reopen and host concerts, while the smaller venues that Save Our Stages have been designed to protect may not even reopen until they receive the funds that were passed almost six months ago.

It remains to be seen whether the senators’ letter or any other effort will save this tragically failed relief effort before many other sites are forced to shut down.

June 15, 2021

The Honorable Isabella Casillas Guzman
Director, Small Business Administration
409 3rd street, southwest
Washington, DC 20416

Dear Administrator Guzman: The Save Our Stages Act, now the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), was created to prevent widespread shutdowns of sites that have been devastated by lost revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic. As supporters of the SVOG program, we urge you to take immediate action to ensure that relief reaches eligible applicants without further delay.

With each passing day, more and more independent companies are forced to shut down or file for bankruptcy. Homeowners and banks no longer allow deferrals and are pushing for immediate payment of overdue accounts; businesses receive eviction notices; family businesses are forced to sell.

It’s been almost six months since Congress passed the Save our Stages Act, nearly two months since the program was launched for the second time, and [nearly 50] days since the Small Business Administration (SBA) started receiving requests. We urge you to take immediate action to ensure funds are distributed to qualified applicants.

The SVOG program is unique, with necessary restrictions built in to ensure that taxpayer funding only goes to eligible applicants in need. By law, the SVOG program requires the granting of funding to eligible applicants who meet simple program requirements. In this context, the insistence on strict adherence to the rules of competitive grants has resulted in unnecessary delays in funding. Likewise, the restrictions imposed by the SBA on communication with grant applicants are unnecessary and have prevented the agency from providing administrative support to individual applicants, which could have streamlined the application review process. The bureaucratic process cannot stand in the way of obtaining these desperately needed funds.

Further delays are unacceptable and would have irreversible consequences for these industries. In order to keep our constituents informed and to ensure that our small businesses receive the support they are promised, we respectfully request that you provide us with the following information:

  1. The number of SVOG awards that have been approved;
  2. The number of SVOG grants that have been paid to recipients;
  3. The amount of SVOG funding that has been disbursed;
  4. The number of pending requests;
  5. The number of priority candidates who received an award notice;
  6. What is the SBA doing to inform small business owners of the status of their claims?
  7. What the SBA does to ensure that applicants are not mistakenly associated with persons and entities with the same name on the Excluded Persons / Entities List (LEIA);
  8. What is the SBA doing to correct false DNP designation notices sent to thousands of applicants?
  9. The SBA’s rationale for dividing grants, regardless of size, into multiple disbursements; and
  10. The SBA’s schedule for subsequent disbursements and what recipients need to do to receive them.

Truly,

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), James Risch (R-ID), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Patty Murray (D-WA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Bill Haggerty (R-TN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Rob Portman ( R-OH), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), John Thune (R-SD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chuck Schumer (D -NY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Steve Daines (R- MT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), John Boozman (R-AR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mitt Romney (R-UT) , Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mike Braun (R-IN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Casey (D-PA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mark Warner ( D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Debbie Sta benow (D-MI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Chris Coons ( D -DE).

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