NY Democratic Leaders Urge Congress to Pass RESTART Act

September 8, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson
Photo courtesy of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

Yesterday, Rep. Antonio Delgado and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand visited the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in an effort to push Congress to pass the bipartisan-supported RESTART Act, which will help live event venues, small and mid-sized businesses which have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. The New York Democratic leaders urged Congress to include the RESTART Act in the next coronavirus relief package. 

The RESTART Act, introduced to the House and Senate this past summer, will extend the provisions of the Payroll Protection Program to include small and mid-sized businesses and live event venues previously unable to receive PPP benefits. 

Although the PPP was meant to provide benefits for these businesses, many could not qualify for them since a PPP loan meant that businesses would have to keep most of their pre-pandemic workforce for up to 24 weeks, a tough requirement to fulfill as businesses lost revenue due to pandemic lockdowns. 

“This legislation builds on the Paycheck Protection Program to provide flexible loans for the hardest hit businesses in our area [New York],” said Delgado, who is a member of the House Small Business Committee. 

Delgado continued, “Congress has a duty to respond to the needs on the ground in our rural communities, and I’ll keep pushing to get this bill included in the next coronavirus relief package.” 

Echoing Delgaldo, Gillibrand said in an official statement, “The PPP program clearly did not work for those hit hardest by this crisis, but the RESTART Act would help fill the gaps and ensure they receive the support they deserve. I will continue fighting to include this legislation as we work to pass the next relief package.” 

The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a non-profit cultural center at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, has been particularly hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to the Bethel Woods website, the arts center has cancelled its beloved Pavillion Concert summer series, postponing concert dates until next year. While the site continues to host visitors at a 25% maximum capacity, projected losses for the organization are expected to reach $12 million by the end of the year. 

To support businesses like Bethel Woods, the RESTART Act will provide loans for businesses that will cover six months of payrolls costs, benefits and fixed operating expenses. If businesses previously experienced a decline of revenue of at least 80%, then the Small Business Administration loans paid out by the PPP will be extended for a 12-month period and can be paid back over seven years. 

Certain recipients of an SBA loan will receive favorable loan terms if they apply. Non-profit organizations can receive lower interest rates and longer loan durations under the RESTART Act. Besides non-profits, businesses who have less than 5,000 employees will be prioritized for SBA loans. 

The RESTART Act gives businesses the opportunity to cover overhead costs and provides them the chance to decide when to spend their loans and when they can rehire their workforce. 

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