In mid-March, at the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control, state and local governments across America took unprecedented action to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. They imposed restrictions on travel, commerce and public gatherings in a concerted effort to prevent our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed. By most metrics, the draconian measures served their intended purpose, but the economic repercussions were a devastating cost to pay.
The Paycheck Protection Program in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was a lifeline for small businesses desperate to save jobs and avoid laying off employees. In the case of our family business, we utilized a PPP loan so that we would not have to tell any one of our dedicated, faithful employees they no longer have a job. Like every other company who accepted a small business loan, our business qualified under law and regulation, and today over 100 of our employees are grateful that we did.
As one of the few small business owners in Congress, I know first-hand what Main Street is experiencing. It is also why my background is so valuable in a Congress that is short of small business owners who truly understand the challenges we face. It is why I have supported the PPP to help businesses survive and fought to quickly replenish it when funding was exhausted. Furthermore, I am a strong proponent of the oversight provisions included in the CARES Act to ensure that every dollar is spent in the best interest of the taxpayers.
Most career politicians have no idea what it means to be a small business owner. Being accountable to your employees and their families is an enormous responsibility which has only been made more challenging during this crisis. Just like every other business, my employees have families who depend on their livelihood and each paycheck for survival. Over the last few weeks, our family business has been faced with gut-wrenching decisions about how to keep our employees on payroll, knowing full well that without the ability to serve customers as we normally would, it’s a nearly impossible feat. Putting our employees in the unemployment line is not an option for us, no matter how politically expedient that might be.
As we begin to reemerge from this health crisis, it is crucial that we continue to provide business owners access to capital and prioritize policies that will maintain maximal employment. The economy has been switched off for over a month now and if we are to demonstrate the full power of American resilience moving forward, then we must focus on providing assistance for every business rather than picking winners and losers. Every employee is important to every community. Period. I have talked to hundreds of small business owners and employees during this battle and I will never stop fighting for you. You are the backbone of our country and I will continue to push for the resources to repair what government mandates have broken.
If you are a small business owner in TX-25 who needs assistance, my staff and I stand ready to assist you in every way possible. I encourage you to contact my office at 202-225-9896 if I can be of any assistance.
Roger Williams of Weatherford is a U.S. Congressman representing District 25, which includes Johnson County.