Senate got the ball rolling with surprise Tuesday passage of
an extension of aid to small businesses hurt by the coronavirus crisis, and the
bill passed in the House a day later by unanimous consent
President Donald Trump over the weekend signed legislation
passed Wednesday in the House by unanimous consent to extend a federal
government program that provides forgivable loans to small businesses hurt by
the coronavirus crisis, a day after Democratic senators late Tuesday
unexpectedly secured unanimous approval in the Republican-run Senate for an
extension of the Paycheck Protection Program.
The deadline for applying for PPP loans was Tuesday, but
lawmakers sought to push it out to Aug. 8.
Earlier Wednesday, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had said
House Democrats were still in talks with Republican lawmakers and the Trump
administration over whether to bring the extension for the PPP to the floor,
with the House headed into a two-week recess.
Hoyer had said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat who
chairs the House Small Business Committee, had concerns that details about
borrowers have not been provided by the administration. The Maryland
congressman said there was also concern over whether an extension would be seen
as giving the administration approval to spend the PPP’s remaining funds
“There’s some indication that they’re saying that there’s
not additional money needed for the Paycheck Protection Program, and they have
an intent to repurpose that money. At this point in time, we don’t know what
that repurposing would be,” he said.
The PPP, which received $670 billion in funding through
March’s CARES Act and April’s follow-on relief package, had 4.9 million loans
outstanding as of Tuesday, totaling $521 billion, according to Small Business
Administration data. Lawmakers have been putting forth different proposals on
how to spend the leftover money. Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat,
proposed allowing businesses that had spent the funds from their first loan to
get more money. Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, had offered a
bill, with Democratic co-sponsors, that would forgive loans of up to $150,000
if business owners submit a one-page form.
The program has drawn criticism over how publicly traded
companies secured loans, as well as over sending money to less hard-hit areas
and allegedly discriminating against businesses owned by women and minorities.
The Trump administration has relented to public pressure and pledged to provide
more details about PPP borrowers, but government watchdogs say still more
transparency is needed.
U.S. stocks SPX, -0.34% DJIA, -0.50%, which were up in
Monday’s post-holiday-weekend session at least in part on the heels of a market
rally in China, have rallied from their March lows thanks in part to optimism
around Washington’s aid efforts.
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