Senate passes extension of popular small-business loan program
The Senate on Thursday passed legislation extending a popular small-business program created by Congress last year during the coronavirus downturn.
Senators voted 92-7 to extend the deadline for applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides loans to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus, from March 31 to May 31.
Seven Republicans voted against the bill: Mike Crapo (Idaho), Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), Jim Risch (Idaho) and Richard Shelby (Ala.).
The House passed the measure last week, meaning it now heads to President Biden’s desk for his expected signature.
In addition to extending the window for applying for the loans, which can be forgiven if borrowers meet certain requirements, the bill also gives the Small Business Administration until June 30 to process the applications.
Business groups have been pushing for Congress to extend the application window, arguing it will provide the financial support needed to keep businesses afloat until the country’s adult population is vaccinated and COVID-19 lockdown measures are lifted.
The program was first created under the bipartisan CARES Act in late March of last year. Congress has passed additional measures to continue funding for the program, including allowing the hardest-hit small businesses to apply for a second loan.
Biden announced policy changes to the PPP in February aimed at targeting assistance to businesses with 20 or fewer employees and minority-owned firms. The administration instituted a 14-day period, which ended on March 9, when only businesses with fewer than 20 employees could apply for the loans.