Sen. Marco Rubio told CNBC on Wednesday he wants to use a network of lenders for an existing program to help small business employers and employees weather the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
"We need to start thinking about not just small business, obviously, but the people who work for them," said the Florida Republican, chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "We are trying to figure out the most effective way to get cash into the hands of small businesses so that they can maintain payroll for at least a six-week period."
Rubio said on "Squawk Box" that lenders across the nation, including big banks and hundreds of community banks and credit unions, could deliver "what would be initially considered a loan to the full amount of the payroll."
However, if companies were to use the money solely to keeping paying workers, they would not have to pay the loan back, Rubio said. He added that any portion of money used for other purposes could be returned "or then convert a year from now into a loan."
Rubio is sponsoring Senate legislation to match President Donald Trump's call for $50 billion in loans from the Small Business Administration, through the SBA's traditional 7(a) loan non-disaster program.
The first coronavirus relief package approved on Capitol Hill included $7 billion in disaster loan authority for small businesses, and there are expected to be multiple pieces of legislation across which more loan relief is made available through the SBA.
— CNBC's Eric Rosenbaum contributed to this report.