WATCH: Senate votes to extend small business loan program by 2 months
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate on Thursday passed Bill 92-7 to extend the time limit for business owners to apply for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, giving applicants two more months to apply for federal assistance.
Watch the Senate debate in the video player above.
The bill had already passed the House, so it is now going to President Joe Biden’s office to be signed. Congress launched the loan program last year to help businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
The deadline for filing applications would be extended until May 31 under the bill, and the federal government would have until June 30 to process applications.
The COVID-19 relief bill that Biden enacted this month provided an additional $ 7.25 billion for the program, but it did not extend the timeline for obtaining loans. Business groups have lobbied lawmakers to keep the program working to ensure that businesses that still need help can get it.
The Small Business Administration reports that it has approved nearly 7.9 million loans totaling about $ 704 billion.
The loans are structured so that they can be fully canceled if the recipient attempts to maintain similar employment levels and uses at least 60% of the loan to cover salary costs. The remaining 40 percent can be spent on rent, utility costs, and other operating expenses.
“This bipartisan legislation comes at a time when small business owners are still grappling with the economic effects of the pandemic and extending the paycheck protection program, even for a short time to deplete existing funds, will help. some of the small businesses that need it. most, ”said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and policy director of the US Chamber of Commerce.
The paycheck protection program has come under fire for favoring large companies with links to big banks in the early months of the pandemic. An analysis of PPP loans by zip code by The Associated Press found that “thousands of small minority businesses” were among the last to receive loans during the first two rounds of funding, which lasted from 3 April to August 8. The AP found that many of these business owners had not received a P3 loan until the final weeks of the program, while more white business owners were able to get loans earlier.
The Biden administration announced several changes to the program earlier this year to address these disparities and make P3 loans more accessible to minority-owned small businesses, but a number of black and Hispanic business owners told PBS NewsHour they feel that the support they have received from the program so far has not been sufficient.