(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today joined Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, and Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez (NY-7) in sending a letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA) urging the agency to translate resources and services for small businesses into the 10 most commonly spoken languages other than English, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized $25 million for the SBA to provide in-language services to be made available immediately. But the SBA has not done so yet, jeopardizing the ability of millions to access benefits like the Payroll Protection Program (PPP).
According to the letter, “The SBA and the Treasury Department have struggled to prepare lenders and borrowers for the of the implementation of Paycheck Protection Program. Given the release of the interim final rule, which states the Paycheck Protection Program is a “first-come, first-serve program” and the recent reports that lenders anticipate the program expending its lending authority, there is a sense of urgency emerging amongst small business owners that if SBA cannot quickly develop services and materials in the languages required by the CARES Act, thousands of business owners that conduct business in foreign languages, or have limited English proficiency, will be left behind. These small businesses must be provided with equal access to the promised government assistance meant to help them survive the COVID-19 outbreak and associated economic hardships.”
The letter continues, “We strongly urge you to expedite the implementation of the in-language services and resources and request a response detailing how SBA plans to utilize the $25 million appropriated through the CARES Act to meet the needs of LEP business owners.” An answer to this letter from the SBA has been requested by no later than April 13, 2020.
The letter is signed by 74 Members of Congress. It is available online here.