WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) spoke on the Senate Floor in support of Isabel C. Guzman as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In her remarks, Klobuchar emphasized Guzman’s strong qualifications to support small businesses as our economy recovers from the pandemic, citing her background as a former entrepreneur and the SBA deputy chief of staff and senior adviser during the Obama administration.
Highlighting recent visits to restaurants in St. Louis Park and Duluth, MN, Klobuchar also stressed the need for a leader who will prioritize resources and aid for local restaurants, noting that one in six restaurants has closed during the pandemic.
Senator Klobuchar: Mr. President, today I rise in support of Isabel Guzman, currently the Director of the Presiding Officer in California, Office of the Small Business Advocate, to be the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. We all know the importance of small businesses and how they have been hit so hard during this pandemic. Small businesses employ nearly half of all private sector workers and make outsized contributions to the innovation that make America's economy strong. Yet the Coronavirus has put millions of people out of business, hundreds of thousands of these mom and pop, brick and mortar retail shops out of business, restaurants out of business, and we are so pleased that there is, as we say in Minnesota, a lighthouse that we're looking to now.
I was up in Duluth on Sunday and instead of the light at the end of the tunnel which so many of us talk about with the end of this pandemic, the Mayor there referred to it as a lighthouse. They have a lot of lighthouses on Lake Superior, Mr. President, and the end of this pandemic is our lighthouse. And we see the blinking lights from a distance but we know we are not there yet.
And to get there, we not only need to get this vaccine to every person and the President has said we will have available vaccines by the end of May for every adult in America, we have to get it distributed and our pandemic bill certainly is going to be a major step toward getting that done. But we also need to get our business economy back in order. We need to be able to not be so far down in the ground that we can't climb out of where we are. And that's why having Ms. Guzman, who served as Deputy Chief of Staff and the Senior Adviser at the Small Business Administration during the Obama administration, having someone with her record and her ability to lead in place is so important. She will oversee the Paycheck Protection Program, which we established on a bipartisan basis in March of 2020 as part of the CARES Act.
She understands the need for greater equity in loan distribution and has shown commitment to transparency and accurate loan data. She has made clear she will make the Paycheck Protection Program more accessible to businesses that have traditionally not had the access to making relationships needed to secure loans and grants. And very significantly to me and to those of us that worked on the Save Our Stages bill, including Senator Cornyn of Texas, who led the bill with me, she has made clear that she will move on the grant program immediately. We have been working with the staff there and we have made some -- given these venues who have been shuttered, the first to close, the last to open, the ability to access PPP loans, which is really important right now but we also want to get the grant program out immediately, get that money out, distributing over $16 billion in grants.
Our venues can't wait. They need that relief and Ms. Guzman will be key to leading our way out of this and helping Senator Schumer with his theaters in New York to the Fargo Theater in North Dakota. We need to get this done.
Our restaurant relief: we just passed as part of the American Rescue Plan, a major, major bill, the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund which is going to be so key. When I was at the Block Food and Drink restaurant in St. Louis Park on Sunday and then headed up to Duluth to the Boat Club with the mayor and the owners of the Boat Club, the stories I heard of servers who have been laid off and then came back, laid off and came back, the stories I’ve heard about the owners of some of these restaurants taking out repeated loans, they are hanging in there and we need to have their backs. One out of six restaurants in this country has permanently closed down during the pandemic.
We don't want to just go, as the leader of the Antitrust Committee in the Senate -- we don't want to give all of our food service and action in the restaurant area to the big guys. We're pleased we have successful restaurant chains in this country, but that can't be the only thing we have. And that's why helping these smaller venues is so important and Ms. Guzman gets that. She is a lifelong proponent of small businesses, the daughter of a small business owner, and as a former entrepreneur, this makes her the right person for this job at the pivotal time in the life of our country.
She has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and numerous trade organizations. I know her leadership at the S.B.A will put our struggling businesses in the best hands. With that, Mr. President, I ask my colleagues to support the nomination of Isabella Guzman to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration. You must be proud, Mr. President, as having someone who has done such good work in California in this job. We're excited about her and what she can do and I also will put remarks on the record as I'm running out of time. I see my colleague from Wisconsin is here and we're going to have the vote ahead of us. Put my statement on the record for Xavier Becerra. We're very excited about him as well to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.
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