Senate agrees to extend PPP loan program to early August

The Senate passed a bill to extend the filing deadline for Paycheck Protection Program loans Tuesday evening, hours before the Small Business Administration is set to stop accepting applications.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, ranking member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, asked for unanimous consent on a bill that would extend the program’s deadline from June 30 to Aug. 8. He was met with no objections, sending the legislation over to the House.

But unless and until the House OKs the language, the SBA will stop accepting applications to the program, which was extremely popular early on in the COVID-19 pandemic to keep small businesses afloat during the mass shutdowns initiated to slow the spread of the disease.

Prior to passage, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., asked unanimous consent that Cardin modify his request and allow the bill to be amended to prohibit businesses that had not seen a pandemic downturn from eligibility for PPP funding. Cardin objected to the proposed change.

The PPP provides small businesses forgivable loans of up to 10 weeks’ worth of payroll to use mostly on paying workers and some other fixed costs. If the businesses follow the program’s guidelines, their debts are forgiven. Money used for other purposes turns into low interest loans with five-year terms.