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Senate to try to pass fix for Paycheck Protection Program Thursday

Senate to try to pass fix for Paycheck Protection Program Thursday
© Bonnie Cash

The Senate is trying to pass a fix for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) before leaving town for the Memorial Day recess.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill Overnight Defense: Defense bill moving forward despite Trump veto threat over tech fight | Government funding bill hits snag | Top general talks Afghanistan, Pentagon budget Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, told reporters that leadership is trying to “hotline” the change, a procedural tactic that lets them find out if any senator would object to passing a piece of legislation. 

“There’s a fix that’s going to be tried ... today to the PPP program that would extend it,” Thune said. 

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If no senator objects, Thune said the chamber could pass the bill on Thursday. It would extend the period of time that money from a PPP loan can be spent beyond the eight-week window established by the March coronavirus response bill.

The fix, according to Thune, has the support of both Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP urges Trump not to tank defense bill over tech fight Pressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread MORE (R-Fla.) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDemocratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry On The Money: Biden, Democratic leaders push for lame-duck coronavirus deal | Business groups shudder at Sanders as Labor secretary | Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year Top Democrat: Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year MORE (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Small Business Committee.

Rubio says they are trying to extend the window to 16 weeks.

"Feel increasingly (yet cautiously) optimistic we will have strong bipartisan support to pass a bill today that would extend the period in which small businesses can use #PPP funds," Rubio tweeted on Thursday. 

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinFunding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms MORE (Ill.), Thune’s Democratic counterpart, told The Hill on Thursday that he hoped the fix for the program passed and that it had bipartisan support. 

The PPP was set up by the March $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill as a program that would provide loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees suffering under the pandemic. But senators have raised concerns that businesses would not be able to spend the money in the initial eight-week period. 

Updated at 12:09 p.m.