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'We plan to be extremely active' | U.S. lawmakers, agencies work to help small businesses affected by coronavirus

The U.S. Senate passed a bill Thursday to provide the US Small Business Administration more money to support small businesses impacted by the coronavirus.

WASHINGTON — Local small businesses have felt the effects of the coronavirus' spread. Now, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are proposing solutions to help.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed an emergency supplemental funding package that will provide the US Small Business Administration $20 million to help small businesses affected by the coronavirus.

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The bill is awaiting President Donald Trump's signature.

"I'm pleased to see in this emergency supplemental appropriations bill, a particular provision to help small businesses so they can get disaster loans like a hurricane, a storm, a natural disaster," said US Senator Ben Cardin, D-Maryland.

Cardin also serves as the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. His committee will hold a hearing March 12 to discuss the impact the coronavirus is making on the supply chain of small businesses.

"We're going to have discussions on Capitol Hill," Cardin said. "We're having the Small Business Administration keep us informed."

The Maryland lawmaker said he has heard stories of the coronavirus impacting restaurants and catering businesses. 

Shannel Wallace owns the Bowie-based hair care business District Cheveux. She said she has had problems importing the hair supplies she needs from China.

"I just never imagined coronavirus would affect me, being in the states," Wallace said. "Not directly as far as being sick, but just, like, my business."

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Cardin and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, recently wrote the US Small Business Administration a letter asking the agency what it is doing to support small businesses as the coronavirus continues to spread.

"We plan to be extremely active to see what SBA is doing to listen to the small business community," Cardin said.

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