Ernst: Include Rural Electric Cooperatives in Small Business Relief


RED OAK, Iowa—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, is continuing to listen to the needs of small businesses throughout Iowa, and in turn, fighting to get them the relief they need. After hearing from several rural electric cooperatives in Iowa waiting on confirmation of their eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Senator Ernst is working to ensure they are included in the popular relief program.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza, Ernst and her colleagues write,“We ask that as you work to implement the Paycheck Protection Program, you ensure that rural electric cooperatives, as private corporate business concerns operating on a cooperative basis, will be considered eligible recipients under the program. Electric cooperatives are privately-owned businesses, formed by and for the benefit of the communities that they serve, primarily in rural America.”

The letter continues, “The program is generally available to ‘any small business concern’ that meets SBA size standards (as well as other eligible entities). Nearly all electric cooperatives are classified as ‘small’ businesses under SBA’s size standards, with the average distribution cooperative employing under 50 people. As these electric co-ops face the same challenges as many other small businesses, we believe the Small Business Administration should ensure they are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Ernst has made it a priority to continue listening to and hearing from Iowans across the state, including small business owners. She has held severalQ&Asessions with business owners, and has held a telephone town hall focused on small business relief. This week, the senator supported additional COVID-19 relief funding, which included more money for the PPP.

Background on Ernst’s efforts to combat COVID-19:

Senator Ernst has fought to deliver relief to all Iowans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of her efforts:

  • Urged her colleagues to stop playing politics and provide additional support for workers and employers.
  • Calledfor bolstering the small business emergency loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Deliveredmajor wins for Iowa’s workers, employers, health care industry, and more in the bipartisan Phase 3 package.
  • Supported the “Phase 1” bipartisan package to provide additional resources to federal, state and local authorities.
  • Helped passthe “Phase 2” bill to provide paid sick leave, free COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and increased support for nutrition for seniors and children.
  • Calledfor an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Urgedthe Senate to prioritize relief for hospitals, community health centers, and workers on the front lines.
  • Announceda proposal to immediately redirect the over $350M in the Presidential Campaign Election Fund to be used to purchase specialized face masks and personal protective equipment.
  • Askedthe State Department to immediately act to get Iowans stranded abroad back home.
  • Soughttariff relief for Iowa’s businesses by calling on Treasury to defer all tariffs during the pandemic.
  • UrgedUSDA to provide additional funding for Iowa’s biofuels industry negatively impacted by COVID-19 as well as the state’s livestock industry.
  • Tookquestions from Iowans in Dubuque and Siouxland areas on COVID-19 relief.
  • Answeredquestions from Iowans in Quad Cities area on COVID-19 relief.
  • Continuedto listen to and answer questions from small businesses across the state.
  • Calledon two federal health agencies to protect Iowa’s Medicare beneficiaries from high-risk settings and ensure safe access to care as we continue to work to combat COVID-19.
  • Helda telephone town hall with thousands of Iowans to help answer some questions and hear directly from folks.
  • Hosted another telephone town hall with Iowa’s seniors and elderly community.
  • Heard from hundreds of Iowa’s small businesses on her telephone town hall.
  • Participatedin discussions at the State Emergency Operations Center with Governor Kim Reynolds.
  • JoinedGovernor Reynolds at her press conference to give an update on federal relief efforts.
  • Discussedthe need to work together – at federal, state, and local level – to tackle COVID-19.
  • Publisheda column on everyone doing their part to protect seniors and fellow Iowans from COVID-19.
  • Penneda second column outlining the federal relief packages Congress passed and reminding Iowans we will get through this, together.  

For additional information for Iowans on COVID-19, you can visit Senator Ernst’s website, which includes resources forfamilies and individualssmall businessesandseniors.