Robert Sawyer, the owner of the Barn Bistro, a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, said he was expecting to have to operate with a reduced level of service for months even after an initial relaxation of the restrictions local officials put in place to stop the spread of the virus. Mr. Sawyer said it did not make sense to him to keep paying his employees when the very existence of his business was uncertain.
“The notion that we should send this payroll to our laid-off employees does not in any way help a small business,” he said.
Bankers have pushed to temporarily relax anti-money-laundering rules that force them to closely scrutinize borrowers, and they say the S.B.A.’s computer system needs to be upgraded. Some of the banks trying to participate in the program still cannot link up properly with the agency to submit applications.
The country’s smallest banks want the next round of stimulus to have a portion earmarked specifically for them — $50 billion out of $250 billion in additional stimulus money.
“Because the largest banks do not serve America’s smaller, rural communities, it would be a costly policy mistake to allow these lenders to soak up a disproportionate share of the funding,” Rebecca Romero Rainey, the chief executive of the Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade group representing the smallest banks, wrote in a letter to congressional leaders on Monday.
Whatever changes Congress makes, though, banks want lawmakers to get the next stimulus package done quickly. “Time is of the essence,” Rob Nichols, the president of the American Bankers Association, a bank trade group that represents both large and small banks, said in a call with journalists on Tuesday.
Many larger companies have found aid easier to come by, thanks to the Federal Reserve. The Fed has rolled out a series of emergency lending programs that helped calm markets, including the all-important government bond market, one for short-term business debt and an ecosystem of cash-based mutual funds that are supposed to be safe havens for conservative investors.