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Save Our Stages re-emerges in new Senate small business bill

The Save Our Stages Act has re-emerged in a new Senate Democrat relief bill aimed specifically at small businesses.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Oct. 20, 2020 with bill co-sponsors Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) (Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

The Save Our Stages Act has re-emerged in a new Senate Democrat relief bill aimed specifically at small businesses.

The $370 billion bill, entitled the Heroes Small Business Lifeline Act, contains the small business provisions of the most recent Heroes Act, including extending the Paycheck Protection Program through March 2022 and supporting theatrical venues and restaurants through the Save our Stages Act and the Restaurants Act. The introduction of the bill Tuesday comes as the fate of a larger stimulus package remains uncertain.

The legislation was introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.). and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has been an outspoken proponent of the Save Our Stages provision. In a press release, the senators said the bill is meant to meet the pressing needs of small businesses, which they fear will not be met by Republicans’ proposed relief measures.

“The HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act meets the scale of the need in our country—providing grants, affordable long-term capital, and small business debt relief to the most vulnerable and hardest-hit small businesses and sectors,” Cardin said. “COVID-19 cases are rising every day. Senate Republicans’ proposal to only reinstate eight weeks of PPP is not enough to get small businesses and their employees through the pandemic.”

The Broadway League has been backing the Save Our Stages provision, which would provide grants to live venue operators, producers, promoters and talent representatives in the entertainment industry. In the theater industry, grants would be given to producers, theater owners and non-profit theaters to cover six months of expenses, including payroll costs, rent, mortgage, utilities and personal protective equipment.

The League, alongside the National Independent Venue Association and several small business and restaurant groups, endorsed the Heroes Small Business Lifeline Act. There are more than 30 co-sponsors of the bill, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

The Heroes Small Business Lifeline Act also includes the ability for hard-hit small businesses and non-profits to receive a second PPP loan, a $40 billion grant program for vulnerable and struggling small businesses, and emergency grants to minority-owned small businesses, among other measures.

Senate Democrats blocked Republicans’ $500 billion coronavirus stimulus bill Wednesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to negotiate over a larger relief package, but the resolution remains unclear. While President Trump has recently encouraged the passage of a relief package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told Senate Republicans not to pass a deal before the presidential election, according to the New York Times.

On Oct. 1, the House of Representatives passed the revised Heroes Act, which contained the Save Our Stages provision, as well as the continuation of $600 extra in weekly unemployment benefits and another $1200 stimulus check — all of which could help sustain the Broadway industry. The Heroes Act also earmarked $135 million in grant funding to be distributed by the National Endowment for the Arts.