Senator aims to identify fiscally responsible solutions to strengthen America’s future pandemic response
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema unveiled her bipartisan pandemic risk working group during a Senate Banking Committee hearing and examined ways to ensure the United States economy is prepared to respond to a future pandemic.
“We need a solution on pandemic risk because small businesses and major employers in Arizona and around the country deserve certainty and stability. Families deserve peace of mind knowing that their jobs are secure,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.
Sinema’s bipartisan pandemic risk working group focuses on identifying fiscally responsible solutions to provide businesses the financial certainty they need in the event of a pandemic.
Sinema also highlighted that some Arizona businesses couldn’t access the relief they needed during the crisis, resulting in closures and failures. Bankruptcies and defaults during the pandemic threatened nearly $2 trillion in commercial real estate loans held largely by big banks, which forced some banks to set aside capital to cover potential loan losses, and tightened credit when businesses needed it the most. Sinema suggested that government and the private sector could partner to create a risk-sharing mechanism that would ensure businesses are covered in the event of a pandemic, all while making our financial system safer and ensuring Arizona small businesses can access the credit they need to create jobs.
In late March, Sinema hosted a roundtable with Arizona small businesses on accessing pandemic relief. In this year’s covid-relief law, Sinema successfully secured her bipartisan Restaurant Rescue Plan, which established a $28.6 billion relief fund for local and independent restaurants to keep Arizonans employed. She also secured an extension of the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help workers stay connected to the workforce and help more small businesses and nonprofits across the country.
December’s coronavirus-relief package provided $325 billion for small businesses – which included provisions for very small businesses: $20 billion for new Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants for businesses in low-income communities, $3.5 billion for SBA debt relief, $15 billion for grants for shuttered venue operators, and $2 billion for enhanced SBA lending.