Congressman Tom Cole

Many of our traditions, customs and celebrations have been observed differently this year and more socially distant than we’d like due to the coronavirus pandemic. This holiday season is unfortunately no exception. However, although we must be more creative in how we go about our activities, there are certainly ways to adapt, including how we shop and find the perfect gifts for our loved ones. And over the weekend on Small Business Saturday, we were reminded of how important it is to shop small and shop local during this season.

 Whether as an employee or owner, Americans have always depended greatly on the success of small businesses, which includes industries beyond retailers and restaurants. In fact, the latest estimate by the Small Business Administration revealed that small businesses in Oklahoma support more than 710,000 jobs statewide, which represents more than half of our workforce. Indeed, we should all take interest in the success of small businesses and their ability to power both the local and national economies. Through their innovation and creativity, entrepreneurs create opportunities not only for themselves but for others as well.

 Sadly, some of the most devastating economic hits this year have been felt the hardest by America’s small businesses. While the federal government has done a lot already to help save and sustain struggling small businesses and their workers, there is more that urgently needs to be done. Quite frankly, such actions should’ve taken place months ago in Congress.

A commonsense place to start would be to reopen the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as well as ensure banks are quickly processing applications so that small businesses can promptly access these funds. The PPP still has more than $130 billion of unspent money which helps small businesses keep their workers employed. Since it was created, the PPP has helped millions of small businesses keep their doors open and their workers on the payroll. For months, Republicans have pushed for a vote on simple legislation to extend and reopen the PPP. Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have now blocked 40 Republican requests to consider the legislation – including one made just a couple weeks ago. 

Certainly, these are unusually difficult times for us all. And helping our small businesses survive is key to our nation’s long-term recovery. Indeed, it is in everyone’s best interest to help them weather the storm. Even in this era of social distancing, there are plenty of ways we can show our support, whether by shopping online, ordering curbside pick-up or to-go and buying gift cards. In Congress, I remain committed to supporting policies that help our small businesses stay afloat.

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