Just as the application deadline was set to expire on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) at midnight Tuesday (June 30), the U.S. Senate extended the popular measure for five more weeks, The New York Times reported.
If lawmakers had failed to act, more than $130 billion would have gone unspent from the Small Business Association’s forgivable loan program to assist companies endure the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, small- and medium-sized firms (SMBs) have until Aug. 8 to apply, the report said.
The bipartisan Senate bill was passed unanimously. It is intended to provide a lifeline to SMBs with fewer than 500 employees. It now goes to the Democratically-controlled House and must be signed by the president, The Times reported.
“The resources are there,” said Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland), one of the bill’s authors. “The need is there. We just need to change the date.”
On the Senate floor, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, said she arrived on Capitol Hill convinced lawmakers would not agree.
“I’m pleased because we have an agreement,” she said, according to The Hill.
The timing of the vote coincides with a New York Times map of the coronavirus that shows 35 states from Maine to Hawaii have seen the number of new COVID-19 cases rise and 15 states including New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts where new cases have stayed mostly the same. Only Maryland, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia have seen fewer new cases.
The vote follows a PYMNTS survey that revealed a majority of SMB owners surveyed, more than 58 percent, said early on in the pandemic they weren’t sure their businesses would survive.
Initially, Congress approved $349 billion in aid that was distributed in less than two weeks. Lawmakers later added another $320 billion to target SMBs.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), chairman of the Small Business Committee, told The Hill before the vote that he had no objections to extending the PPP’s application deadline but that most SMBs that wanted to benefit from the program have already used it.
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