MCALLEN, Texas – Congressman Vicente Gonzalez says he is “watching like a hawk” to make sure banks give more Payment Protection Program funds to small businesses.

A complaint made after the first stimulus bill was sent out by Congress was that too much of the funding was gobbled up by big business. Gonzalez said he and his congressional colleagues are determined this does not happen with the second tranche of money.

“We know that a lot of small businesses didn’t get funded (in the first round),” Gonzalez said. “We are watching like hawks to ensure that our smallest of small businesses do get this money.”

Gonzalez said he has “indicated to my banking community” that he is “watching them closely.”

The McAllen Democrat said: “We want to make sure that it is not only the businesses that have 100, 200, 300 employees that get funding but also the pizzeria that has five employees, and the stores downtown that have five, ten or 20 employees.”

Gonzalez said restaurant owners have been hit especially hard by the stay at home orders. He said Congress wants to help them.

“If you have a small plumbing company or construction company, if you are a framer, you deserve to cash in on these PPP funds. My office is here to help you and we are here to assure that our smallest of small businesses can get in line to get these funds.”

Gonzalez said that under the second stimulus bill, $60 billion was set aside for small and medium sized community banks and to credit unions. 

“We carved that out because we were seeing that, when you measure a small business from one employee to 500 employees, there is a huge difference. We feel that a lot of those larger small businesses went to the front of the line and gobbled up a lot of those funds,” Gonzalez said.

“We are watching like hawks. I have communicated with our local small banks and community banks and told them, we need to take care of our smallest of small businesses. I think they all agreed that that was something that needed to get done. The funding is there.”

A reporter asked Gonzalez if the problem did not originate with Congress. It was Congress that wrote the law that allowed big companies to apply for funding under PPP.

Gonzalez responded: “Many banks became gatekeepers of those funds and many banks looked after their largest customers rather than their smallest customers.”

He reiterated that he would be “watching like a hawk” to ensure that a business with 300 or 400 employees does not have an advantage over a pizzeria with five employees. 

“Or the stores in downtown McAllen that have ten employees. Or the contractor or the plumber or the electrician. They are all small businesses and they all need to be treated equally and fairly,” Gonzalez said.

“I don’t think it happened with that first round of funds that went out so I am watching. Members of Congress across the country are watching.”

Gonzalez said that within 180 days the federal government has to give Congress a report back on the distribution of the PPP funds.

“We want to know how many businesses with 50 employees or less, or 25 employees or less or 100 employees or less are receiving those funds. We are also asking, within 100 days, for a report that breaks things down by geography, race, ethnicity, gender, and age.” 

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