Manchin: McConnell’s partisan PPP bill doesn’t address needs of West Virginians

Senator Joe Manchin
(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted against Mitch McConnell’s partisan Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) bill because it does not address the needs of West Virginia small businesses that desperately need help right now.

“West Virginians know I am always trying to work with my Republican colleagues to find compromises that solve the issues facing us. Since we have not been able to come to an agreement on a larger COVID relief package, I am not opposed to a piecemeal approach like voting on a standalone PPP bill. This is the first COVID relief bill we have voted on in over a month and it should have been bipartisan and all-inclusive to help everyone that’s struggling. But once again, Mitch McConnell has refused to engage in bipartisan discussions and his partisan PPP proposal is a fraction of what is necessary to stop the bleeding for West Virginia small businesses. It doesn’t provide our rural hospitals, nonprofits, local newspapers and broadcasters, live music venues and restaurants with the help they desperately need to stay afloat. But in order to do that we must reach across the aisle and put partisanship aside. In the meantime, Mitch McConnell’s political games are costing West Virginia small business owners and employees their livelihoods so he can score cheap political points,” said Senator Manchin.

West Virginia small businesses who are left out of Mitch McConnell’s partisan PPP proposal

Critical Access Hospitals – While important changes were made in May to allow community-owned hospitals to participate in PPP, this bill does not address the issue still facing small hospitals in rural areas that are affiliated with a larger network like West Virginia University. This includes hospitals like St. Joseph’s Hospital (Buckhannon), Potomac Valley Hospital (Keyser), and Jefferson Medical Center (Ranson).

Nonprofits – While the bill will help some 501(c)(6) organizations with under 150 employees, many small and medium sized 501(c)(6) organizations would still be excluded. The National Council for Nonprofits estimates that at least 2,000 nonprofits would be left out of the McConnell PPP proposal. This includes, most state and metro chambers of commerce and well know organizations like the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Habitat for Humanity, YMCA, March of Dimes, Ducks Unlimited, and many more.

Local Newspapers and Broadcasters – The bill does not include expanded eligibility to allow local newspapers and broadcasters to access PPP loans. Under current law, only a small fraction are eligible to participate in PPP. This includes West Virginia news outlets like WTOV (Wheeling), WCHS (Charleston-Huntington), WVAH (Charleston-Huntington), WOWK (Charleston/Huntington), WTRF (Wheeling), WVNS (Ghent), WBOY (Clarksburg), West Virginia Radio Corporation with 63 affiliates covering all 55 West Virginia counties, WWVA Radio (Wheeling), The Inter-Mountain (Elkins), The Journal (Martinsburg), The Parkersburg News and Sentinel (Parkersburg), Weirton Daily Times (Weirton), Wheeling Intelligencer (Wheeling), The Shepherdstown Chronicle (Shepherdstown), The Wetzel Chronicle (New Martinsville) and The Tyler Star News (Sistersville).

Restaurants – While restaurants remain eligible for PPP loans, McConnell’s PPP proposal does not include tailored assistance to address the specific challenges – such as access to working capital – facing the restaurant industry right now. 75% of West Virginia’s roughly 3,300 restaurants and bars are at risk of closure without tailored assistance.

Live Music Venues and Theaters – Similar to restaurants, live music venues and theaters are generally eligible to participate in PPP, but they need immediate access to working capital more than funding for payroll expenses. This includes West Virginia venues like Smoot Theater (Parkersburg), Historic Fayette Theatre (Fayetteville), Keith Albee (Huntington), Rose G. Smith PAC (Williamson), V Club (Huntington), 123 Pleasant St (Morgantown), Landes Performing Arts Center (Petersburg), Raleigh Theater (Beckley), Chuck Mathena Center (Princeton), Strand Theater (Moundsville), Alban Theater (St. Albans), The Capitol Theatre (Wheeling), Carnegie Hall (Lewisburg), Clay Center for the Arts (Charleston), Logan Theatre (Logan), Metropolitan Theatre (Morgantown), Pocahontas County Opera House (Marlinton), Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center (Clarksburg) and Shiley Acres Concert Stage (Inwood).

Small Borrowers – Many West Virginia mom and pop shops who received small PPP loans do not have the resources to navigate the lengthy, bureaucratic forgiveness process. This bill does not do enough to simplify that process.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com