WASHINGTON – The Senate voted today on Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) amendment to ensure that Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance cannot go to individuals found guilty of felony or misdemeanor rioting. Every Senate Democrat voted against the measure, blocking it by a vote of 49-51.
“We guarantee freedom of speech in America. Unlike other countries, we also guarantee freedom after speech. One form of freedom of speech is the right to peacefully protest. That doesn’t mean that violence as a part of protest is or should be legal in our country—in fact, it’s not. Without order, there can be no justice,” said Kennedy.
“This is the most expensive period of riots in our history. My amendment would prohibit the SBA from providing assistance, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, 7(a) loans, and other small business assistance to anyone who has been convicted during the past year of a felony or a misdemeanor during and in connection with a riot,”Kennedy concluded.
By mid-April of 2020, lockdowns and capacity restrictions had either temporarily or permanently reduced the number of small businesses in operation by 44 percent.
Violent protests and riots then further damaged small businesses already struggling under the pandemic. One in 20 U.S. protests between May 26 and Sept. 5 involved rioting, looting and similar violence, resulting in 47 fatalities. During the summer of 2020, riots caused over $1 billion in damage to cities across the country, making that time the most expensive period of riots in America’s history.
Kennedy’s amendment would prohibit the SBA from providing assistance such as the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and other small business assistance to anyone who has been “convicted, during the past year, of a felony or misdemeanor during and in connection with a riot or civil disorder or other declared disaster.”
Video of the senator’s full floor remarks is available here.