Two Republican Senators are holding up a bill that would extend the end date of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from August until December, Roll Call reported.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who chairs the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin are delaying the bill because they believe the PPP should end in August. The PPP provides loans for businesses to help offset the loss of funds from the pandemic, which can become grants if used to pay employees.
The bill, passed by the House already, would modify the PPP by extending the time recipients have to spend the money from eight weeks to 24 weeks, and also extend the current June 30 end date for the program until the end of the year instead.
Conn Carroll, a spokesperson for Lee, told the news outlet that Lee believes the PPP was intended to be a short-term solution.
Johnson, writing in a May 31 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, said he'd like to see changes to the program, such as forcing companies to demonstrate that they need the money.
Rubio said he was primarily concerned about one section of the bill that reduces the amount businesses have to spend 75 percent of the funds on payroll to 60 percent. Rubio said that provision would make it seem like there was a hard forgiveness standard for the entire loan, rather than for just the portion used on employee payments.
This prevents the quick passage of the extension, which would force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to spend floor time on the measure, which he typically does not want to do. McConnell says he wants to take up the bill "soon" and has put it on the Senate calendar.
A May survey by NFIB found that 54 percent of PPP recipients think they'll have all their loans forgiven, and another 27 percent expect around 75 percent will be forgiven, according to Roll Call.
But many businesses are nearing their eight-week threshold for when they need to have the money spent. And around $20 billion in loans has been returned, with some of that coming from small businesses unsure they can use their money in a way that the loans would be forgiven, looking to avoid large debts.