Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) today led a letter joined by 17 Senators to Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, and Jovita Carranza, Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to thank them for the recently issued interim final rule on protections for faith-based entities during the continued rollout of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and related federal economic relief. The Administration also issued an FAQ for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) programs to clarify that faith-based entities, including houses of worship, are eligible for the PPP and EIDL and will not need to sacrifice their religious beliefs to comply.
The letter also asks the Administration to ensure that no otherwise-qualified, faith-based entity is denied relief due to its affiliation with other entities as an aspect of its religious practice. Additionally, the letter asks that the Administration allow for maximum participation by faith-based entities and monitor the action of lenders to ensure faith-based entities are not discriminated against.
“It was Congress’ intent that the $349 billion in loans for payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities that was authorized under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as well as the expansion of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) would help businesses and nonprofits, including those with faith missions, stay afloat and keep employees on their payrolls during this time,” wrote the senators. “As such, we were glad to see the additional guidance and clarification issued on April 3, 2020 to make it clear to lenders and borrowers that faith-based entities are able to participate in these two loan programs.
“As we repeatedly brought to your attention, without these assurances, many of our nation’s most impactful faith-based entities would have been unable to participate in the PPP due to undue restrictions on their sincerely held religious beliefs, thereby forcing them to choose between abandoning their faith mission or closing their doors to both employees and the communities they serve.”
Joining Lankford and Inhofe in the letter are Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Braun (R-IN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Todd Young (R-IN), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Mike Lee (R-UT).
A copy of the letter can be found HERE