Rosen Transcript Following Hearing on Nomination of Isabel Guzman to Oversee Small Business Administration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) questioned Isabel Guzman, President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), about gaming small businesses’ access to  Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, lifting the caps on EIDL loans and grants, and providing SBA resources to legally operating cannabis businesses in Nevada. A transcript of the Senator’s full exchange can be found below, and a video of the Senator’s full exchange can be found here.

ROSEN: Mrs. Guzman, thank you for being with us today and for your commitment to serving our nation. I appreciated our productive meeting just last week, and I look forward to your plans to revive our nation’s economy, to create jobs, and really just keep our nation’s small business afloat. Amidst a global pandemic that has devastated our small business economy, not just in Nevada, but across this nation, and I urge this committee to have a swift confirmation for Mrs. Guzman so we can let her get immediately to the hard work of bringing our businesses back.

I want to talk about something really important to Nevada, and of course so many other states in the nation, its access to PPP loans for gaming small businesses.

Last year, when SBA rolled out the Paycheck Protection Program that Congress created, small businesses that earned more than one-third of their revenue from legal gaming operations were excluded from the program. This had the potential to starve Nevada’s small businesses of critical support when they needed it most. As you know, not all casinos are big businesses. Many – including some of our hotel casinos – are small businesses, and they employ a large number of workers who make up the backbone of Nevada’s economy. Moreover, while most people assume that gaming only means casinos, in our state there is often gaming equipment inside restaurants, grocery stores, and convenience store, gas stations, and the like. And a ban on loans to gaming businesses also affects gaming equipment manufacturers in Nevada.

Thankfully, Senator Cortez Masto and I, along with our House delegation, were able to convince SBA under the last Administration to abandon this misguided policy, and the agency’s guidance for the next round of PPP also allows gaming businesses to access relief.

Mrs. Guzman, given the importance of gaming to Nevada’s economic recovery, will you commit to working with me to ensure that legal gaming small businesses continue to have access to PPP, SBA loans, and the like, as they try to stay afloat and revive themselves as we reopen our economy?

GUZMAN: Thank you so much Senator. I appreciated meeting with you, and I enjoyed the conversation. I am very happy to commit to ensuring that the program is as accessible as possible to all of our small businesses who qualify, and I look forward to partnering with you. I’ve noted the concern, and I will be sure to follow up with your staff and coordinate anything in the future that you have concerns about specific to those types of businesses.

ROSEN: Thank you, I appreciate it. I also want to talk about lifting the caps on EIDL loans and grants.

My office has helped directly nearly 1,200 Nevada small businesses with their questions about COVID-19 relief programs, and the complaint we have frequently heard about was the SBA’s $1,000-per-employee cap on EIDL Advance grants and the $150,000 cap on EIDL loans. These borrowing caps were not Congress’s intent when we allocated these funds, and some of our businesses have not have been able to survive because these caps were inadequate.

Last year, I introduced the bipartisan EIDL for Small Businesses Act, that eliminates the borrowing caps on EIDL loans and EIDL grants, and replenished funding for the EIDL program.

Can you commit this session to work with us to fully remove the caps on EIDL loans and grants, and invest new dollars that are needed – 99 percent of businesses in Nevada are small businesses—that are needed to give that support to our businesses so desperately need?

GUZMAN: Thank you, Senator. Yes, I heard similar concerns from small businesses in California, and if confirmed, I look forward to diving in quickly to all of the CARES Act support to make sure we’re reaching the businesses that need it at the levels that Congress has allowed, and so I would look forward to partnering with you and staff on ensuring that that happens.

ROSEN: I know I just have a few seconds left. We do have legal state cannabis businesses [in Nevada], will you work with our office to commit to consider providing legally operating cannabis small businesses equal access to SBA resources – loans, counseling, mentoring and training?

GUZMAN: I commit to further understanding those rules and regulations and seeing how we can partner with your office to serve all the small businesses who are in need.

ROSEN: Thank you, I appreciate that.