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 rioting within the last 15 years. Senate Democrats voted against the measure, blocking it by a vote of 48-50.
“Without order, there can be no justice. 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. Free speech is as American as baseball, but violence as a part of protest is illegal in our country,” 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.
Under the Trump Administration, individuals who have been arrested or convicted of a felony in the last year, or were convicted of financial assistance fraud in the last five years, were deemed ineligible for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
The Biden Administration discontinued this safeguard so that individuals with prior non-fraud felony convictions are now able to access PPP funds.
Kennedy’s amendment would prohibit the SBA from providing assistance such as PPP, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and other small business assistance to anyone who has been convicted of a felony during or in connection with a riot or civil disorder that occurred during the past 15 years.