Senate leaves for break without passing Paycheck Protection Program fix
© Greg Nash

The Senate left for a weeklong Memorial Day recess without passing bipartisan legislation to make fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 

Senate GOP leadership began to "hotline" the legislation, a procedural move that allows them to see if any senator would object to passing it, on Thursday, with Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, predicting it could pass on Thursday if no senator objected. 

But the Senate adjourned on Thursday for the break without passing the legislation, which would extend the window for businesses to spend PPP money from eight weeks to 16 weeks.

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As the legislation stands currently, businesses have to spend the money within eight weeks to qualify for loan forgiveness. 

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal Break glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins MORE (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Small Business Committee, said that leadership was still trying to find out if any senator objected to passing the bill and left the door open to the Senate passing it during a pro forma session that is scheduled to be held on Friday, Tuesday and next Thursday. 

"It's going to pass. It's just how long it takes to run the hotline and get all the offices to call back," he said. 

Rubio added that because every office is called during a hotline, "It could take two hours or it could take two days, it just depends. It's a very mysterious process."

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - 2024 GOPers goal: Tread carefully, don't upset Trump MORE (Md.), the top Democrat on the panel, also predicted that the fix could be passed during a pro forma session. 

"Hopefully within in the next couple days, we can have a bicameral understanding, and get it done hopefully by UC," Cardin said, adding that it was "possible" it could pass next week. 

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The PPP was created as part of March's $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill. It gives loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, and gives them an eight-week window to spend the money. 

But senators warned that they were worried some companies would not be able to spend the funds in that timeframe. 

The legislative fix, which was introduced on Thursday by Rubio, Cardin and Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Bill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol MORE (R-Maine) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session Senate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it MORE (D-N.H.), would extend the window for the money to be spent. 

It would also extend the deadline for applying for a PPP loan and let part of the loans go toward purchasing protective equipment. 

The House voted to extend the eight-week window to 24 weeks as part of last week's roughly $3 trillion HEROES Act, and the chamber is also expected to vote on a stand-alone PPP bill next week. 

Rubio, asked about the House proposal of 24 weeks, said there weren't "insurmountable" differences. 

"We'll have to see if they can amend theirs to reflect ours," he said. "I don't think the differences between the House and Senate on this issue are insurmountable. I think they're semantic and maybe a couple of weeks here or there, but that wouldn't be the reason why this doesn't get done." 

Updated 9:16 p.m.