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House votes unanimously to extend deadline for coronavirus small-business loan program

House votes unanimously to extend deadline for coronavirus small-business loan program
© Greg Nash

The House on Wednesday unanimously passed an extension to the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) less than a day after the program expired. 

The Senate passed the extension on Tuesday, and the House vote sends the bill to President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE’s desk. 

Upon the president's approval, the extension will keep the small-business loan program open to applications until August 8.

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There's approximately $130 billion in unspent money under the PPP, which is open to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, and lawmakers decided to extend the deadline for applications rather than reallocate those funds. 

The PPP was included in the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress in March, when the pandemic began to grip the country and shut down businesses. Lawmakers later passed a bill to add money to the loan program. The deadline extension comes as several states have closed down businesses a second time after experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19. 

As of this week, 4.8 million small businesses have tapped more than $520 billion in PPP loans. The loans are forgivable for businesses that prove they used the money to continue paying employees.

Democrats have been skeptical about how the program was being applied, particularly after it was reported that larger brands such as Shake Shack and Potbelly were eligible. Even before the approaching deadline, lawmakers have requested data on the demographics of people obtaining the loans. 

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE has said that information would be given to lawmakers by the end of this week, after the current application deadline. 

“As we vote for a brief extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, I continue to call on the Trump Administration to release the data of who has received its benefits,” House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAgainst mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan Charles Booker launches exploratory committee to consider challenge to Rand Paul Top academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “The Administration’s breathtaking lack of transparency continues to raise serious questions as to why the Administration is failing to ensure this lifeline reaches the small businesses in our most impacted communities.”

Updated at 8:20 p.m.