Press releases

Watch Kennedy’s comments here.

WASHINGTON – The Senate voted today on Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-La.) amendment to ensure that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) assistance cannot go to individuals found guilty of felony rioting within the last two years. For the third time, Senate Democrats voted down the measure.

“Without order, there can be no justice. Felony rioting destroys businesses and kills jobs. It should be punished, not rewarded. We shouldn’t be taking resources away from hardworking small business owners and giving those taxpayer dollars to criminals who have been duly convicted of felony rioting. What we allow is what will continue, and you either approve of violent rioting or you don’t,” said Kennedy.

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.

“My amendment is very simple. It says that if you were one of those rioters, and you have received due process, you have been convicted by a court of law of competent jurisdiction and you have been adjudged to have committed a felony with respect to the riot or civil disorder, in the past two years, that you cannot participate in the PPP program. We already have that law at the SBA for disaster loans. This would extend it to the PPP program,” explained Kennedy on the floor.

“This is the third time I’ve brought this amendment. The third time. . . . It would be a lot more intellectually honest if my colleagues who oppose my amendment said, ‘Look, we just don’t think that if you rioted you should be punished with respect to the PPP program.’ That’s what a ‘no’ vote is saying,” Kennedy concluded.

Under the Trump Administration, individuals who have been arrested or convicted of a felony in the last year, or who were convicted of financial assistance fraud in the last five years, were deemed ineligible for PPP loans.

The Biden Administration discontinued this safeguard so that individuals with prior non-fraud felony convictions are now able to access PPP funds.

Our laws already prohibit the SBA from making disaster loans to anyone who has been convicted of a felony in connection with a riot or civil disorder in the past year. However, this prohibition does not extend to the Paycheck Protection Program.

Kennedy’s amendment would prohibit the SBA from providing PPP loans to anyone who has been convicted of a felony during or in connection with a riot or civil disorder that occurred during the past two years.

Democrats blocked similar amendments from Kennedy in February and March of this year.

The text of Kennedy’s amendment is available here.