Editor’s note: The Highlands News-Sun asked Congressman Greg Stuebe if he was in favor of additional assistance for the hardest hit of our locally owned businesses. What follows was his full reply.

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other financial aid programs through the Small Business Administration (SBA). I appreciate you taking the time to contact me on this important matter.

As you know, on March 27, 2020, Congress appropriated $350 billion to fund the PPP and give relief to the millions of employers and employees of small businesses across America. Unfortunately, many businesses encountered delays and issues through both the SBA and banks in their efforts to secure loans. On April 16, 2020, all emergency funding for the PPP ran completely dry, leaving thousands of small businesses without access to funds to keep their companies afloat. I have heard from many of these business owners in my district and can only imagine the frustration and pain felt by so many throughout this already challenging time.

Although it does not make up for the intermittent financial losses experienced thus far by small businesses, I am pleased to report that on April 23, 2020, the House passed, and I supported, H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, or “Phase 3.5”, as it has been commonly referred to. This legislation authorized an additional $310 billion for the PPP to use for issuing loans to small business. It also increased the appropriation level for this program by $11.3 billion, should additional funding is necessary. Additionally, H.R. 266 provides approximately $60 billion to support the lending ability of smaller financial institutions, such as community credit unions.

Importantly, H.R.266 also amended the eligibility threshold for the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to now allow agricultural enterprises – so long as they meet the qualifications to be considered a small business – to utilize this program. I was especially pleased with this provision, as on April 6, 2020, I joined with my colleagues in the Florida congressional delegation, to request that the SBA allow our struggling farmers, ranchers, and growers to access this much-needed EIDL assistance.

President Trump signed H.R. 266 into law on April 24, and I look forward to seeing the positive effects be implemented. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and it is absolutely crucial that we continue to improve our efforts in supporting their survival during this crisis. Should Congress consider any additional funding measures related to the PPP, EIDL, or other related loan programs, I will be sure to thoroughly review the standards and keep your thoughts in mind.

Should you experience unfair treatment with your loan application and need help communicating with the SBA or other government agencies on a personal claim, please reach out to our district offices at the number below or select “casework help with a federal agency” in your next email for immediate assistance. You may also visit the “Help with a Federal Agency” section on my website under the “Services” tab to submit a Privacy Release Form and request to begin a case with the SBA. Whenever possible, we will try our best to assist and direct your claim to the appropriate resource at the SBA. Rest assured, I am committed to guaranteeing that each of my constituents receives proper compensation for their businesses.

Moving forward, I encourage you to stay connected to my office through my e-newsletter at https://steube.house.gov/ to receive regular updates from Washington, D.C. and by joining me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thank you again for your message and please do not hesitate to contact me with any future questions or comments. I also encourage you to visit my website for additional COVID-19 resources as we continue to deal with this pandemic. You can reach me by replying to this message or calling our Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-5792 or our Florida offices at 941-499-3214.

Congressman Greg Steube serves Florida’s 17th Congressional District, which includes Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, and Okeechobee counties as well as portions of Lee, Polk, and Sarasota counties.