WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government has provided over half a trillion dollars to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, but a lot more is likely needed.

What You Need To Know

  • Over $670 billion has been given to small businesses since March

  • Bipartisan agreement that minority and women-owned businesses need more help

  • Congress is debating whether more small business money should go in next relief package

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza came to Capitol Hill on Friday with the latest numbers.

So far, five million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans have been approved, worth over $500 billion. And $170 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) have been sent to over eight million small businesses.

“A next phase of relief should extend the PPP, but on a more targeted basis for smaller companies and those that are especially hard hit, such as restaurants, hotels, and other travel and hospitality business,” Mnuchin said at Friday’s House Small Business Committee hearing.

While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 79-percent of small businesses are at least partially back open, recent studies estimate 110,000 have permanently closed since the pandemic started, and an estimated 7.5 million are at risk.

Mnuchin said 27-percent of the PPP money has gone to low or moderate-income communities, but there was bipartisan agreement on Friday that minority and women-owned small businesses haven’t had equal access, mainly because they often lack a strong relationship with a bank.

“We cannot let their businesses also disproportionately bear the economic consequences,” said Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-New York), the chair of the committee.

“We have to make sure that those folks in these economically disadvantaged areas have access to this,” echoed Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot (R, 1st Congressional District).

Chabot, who represents the Cincinnati area, is the top Republican on the committee.

In Ohio, his district ranks first for most jobs saved by the PPP (over 250,000) and most loan money received (nearly $3 billion). But he acknowledged in an interview after Friday’s hearing that Congress will have to do more in the coming weeks.

“I think where we’re likely to come down is that we want to still help as many small businesses as possible, perhaps those that have been hit the hardest,” Chabot said. “And maybe some of the smallest businesses that didn’t make it in the first round. It’s possible there may be some businesses who did get a loan, who could apply for another and, in some cases, get that.”

The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration are working to simplify the application process for these loans, so more small business owners can take advantage.

But because the PPP and EIDL programs have a combined $300 billion left in them, some lawmakers may object to adding more small business money to the next relief package.

After taking a July 4 recess, Congress returns to session on Monday and will attempt to pass another coronavirus relief package in just a couple of weeks before a scheduled August recess.