Treasury secretary says he'll work to extend loan period for PPP

Treasury secretary says he'll work to extend loan period for PPP
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Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Mnuchin and McConnell discuss debt limit during brief meeting Major Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report MORE said Monday that the administration is working on expanding the loan period for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to give small businesses more time to spend funds.

Restaurant industry leaders asked Mnuchin and President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE in a meeting at the White House on Monday to expand the loan period, which is currently eight weeks, to 24 weeks. 

Mnuchin said he's working on a “technical fix” but didn't commit to 24 weeks.

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“I’m not sure it’s that long but I’ve spoken with the SBA [Small Business Administration] committee and there is bipartisan support so we’re working on that,” Mnuchin said.

The PPP was created through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide loans to small businesses. It offers forgivable loans if small businesses spend at least 75 percent of the funds on employees’ paychecks and it’s intended to cover payroll for eight weeks.

The top industry lobby group, the National Restaurant Association, and others at the meeting called for an extension to 24 weeks of payroll.

“Did you guys meet before this or something? Did you have a little meeting to discuss this? Now I feel better because everybody’s saying the same thing,” Trump said at the meeting. 

Trump pressed National Restaurant Association interim CEO Marvin Irby about the industry’s call for an extension, asking if it was going to go beyond 24 weeks to 75 weeks.

“I know a couple of you, you’ll never stop,” Trump said.

Irby said 24 weeks should work for the struggling industry.

“You need to give our smaller restaurateurs the opportunity to open, continue to have demand, and bring back employees,” he said.

More than 60 percent of restaurants said existing federal relief won’t prevent more layoffs in the industry, an April survey from the restaurant association found. 

Panera Bread CEO Niren Chaudhary, who said he supported the extension to 24 weeks, said at the meeting that the revenue decline for his company has been 50-60 percent during the pandemic.

“That’s not bad,” Trump responded.

Trump also touted liability protections for businesses against coronavirus-related lawsuits, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight House sets up Senate shutdown showdown Biden says he doesn't believe a government shutdown will happen MORE (R-Ky.) has insisted on including in the next coronavirus relief package. 

“The Democrats don’t want to give that to people and that’s not a good thing. We’ll get it anyway,” Trump said on liability protections.