Mnuchin says Congress must act to make key PPP change

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinFinancial groups applaud Biden Treasury pick Yellen US sanctions Chinese company for conducting business with Maduro regime Monumental economic challenges await Biden's Treasury secretary 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) CusackThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Election Day has arrived Law enforcement braces for unrest after Election Day The Hill's 12:30 Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association -Trump enters debate week after NYT obtains his tax returns MORE at Thursday's Advancing America's Economy event.


"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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases House Democrats urge congressional leaders to support .1B budget for IRS Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate 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.