A group of senators want to allow larger non-profits access to emergency loans during the coronavirus pandemic—with an exception to exclude abortion providers.
New legislation introduced on Wednesday by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), joined by Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), would modify regulations so that non-profits with more than 500 employees could also be eligible for emergency Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the pandemic.
When the PPP was set up under the CARES Act in March, one of the sticking points in debate was the eligibility of Planned Parenthood and abortion providers for emergency assistance.
The 500-employee limit barred Planned Parenthood from accessing PPP loans; a group of more than 90 members of Congress wrote the Small Business Administration on April 30, asking them to maintain restrictions on Planned Parenthood’s eligibility for the loans.
Loeffler’s bill forbids any taxpayer funding of abortion providers under the program.
“Paycheck Protection Program funds are for saving jobs and helping people, not ending lives,” Sen. Cramer stated.
In the first round of PPP loans, $349 billion went to businesses and non-profits, although reports surfaced of large businesses being approved for the small business loans.
Affiliation rules meant that smaller entities that were a part of larger non-profit would count as part of one large entity, thus seemingly disqualifying many Catholic dioceses, parishes, and schools from the program.
Guidance later issued by the SBA, however, clarified a faith-based exemption, and many parishes and schools applied for and received assistance. According to CBS News, 9,000 out of the 17,000 Catholic parishes in the U.S. received PPP loans either in the first or second round of funding.
Applications for the loans were halted on April 16 when the program ran out of money. A second round of $310 billion was then approved by Congress.
Some Catholic dioceses undergoing bankruptcy proceedings either did not apply for PPP loans, or sued the SBA for being disqualified due to their bankruptcy status. In the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, parishes and schools applied for loans as legal entities separate from the diocese, and were accepted, despite the diocese itself going through bankruptcy proceedings.
Loeffler’s bill would allow for larger non-profits such as the YMCA and religious organizations not exempt from the PPP regulations to access the small business loans.
“Churches, YMCAs and other organizations are doing amazing work during this difficult time to provide childcare, meals and other support for families and children,” Sen. Loeffler said. “This legislation will allow them to access loans to help them keep their doors open and continue serving their communities while ensuring no taxpayer dollars go to abortion providers.”