Mnuchin says Congress must act to make key PPP change

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan Mnuchin dodges CNBC questions on whether Trump lying over election Democrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer MORE in an interview with The Hill on Thursday said Congress will have to act to make changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, such as extending the amount of time that small businesses have to use funds intended to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic. 

Mnuchin said he can't extend the time period for spending money, as some businesses have called for, on his own. The period is now limited to eight weeks.

"The eight weeks I wish I could do administratively. If I could we would already do it," Mnuchin said in an interview with The Hill's Editor in Chief Bob CusackRobert (Bob) CusackAl Eisele, founding editor of The Hill, dies at 85 The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Tensions rise as U.S. waits for Derek Chauvin verdict Key Democrat says traveler fees should fund infrastructure projects MORE at Thursday's Advancing America's Economy event.

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"That's something we definitely want to fix. It doesn't cost us any more money and there is bipartisan support," he said.

While the National Restaurant Association pushed for the period to be extended to 24 weeks, Mnuchin said that there was bipartisan support for expanding the timeline to 10-12 weeks.

He also pushed back on making dramatic changes that would allow more of the loans to go toward overhead.

"It's called the Paycheck Protection Program, it's not called the overhead protection program," he said.

Under the program, 75 percent of the loan must be used for payroll. The rest of the loan can go toward paying a business's mortgage, rent and utilities, a proportion Mnuchin said was appropriate.

The program, he said, still has $100 billion in funding left, reducing the urgency of topping off its funding.

Mnuchin said his last conversation with House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse rejects GOP effort to seat McCarthy's picks for Jan. 6 panel GOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Five things to watch as Jan. 6 panel begins its work MORE (D-Calif.), last week, focused more on implementing the existing legislation than on a new coronavirus relief bill.

The interview took place as part of The Hill's Advancing America's Economy virtual summit, sponsored by Wells Fargo and Siemens.