Mnuchin says Congress must act to make key PPP change

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays 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 - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Progress slow on coronavirus bill The Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks Hillicon Valley: House panel grills tech CEOs during much anticipated antitrust hearing | TikTok to make code public as it pushes back against 'misinformation' | House Intel panel expands access to foreign disinformation evidence 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.

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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 PelosiCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays 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.