The U.S. Senate extended the deadline for businesses to apply for coronavirus aid under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
According to The Hill, the program was set to expire Tuesday night. The extension, which passed unanimously, moves the deadline to file for loans to Aug. 8. Senate Democrats applauded the move as a necessary one.
“Thanks to Senate Democrats, the PPP program has been improved to provide as lifeline to more small businesses struggling to stay afloat during these turbulent times,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “And tonight Senate Democrats have ensured that small businesses can continue to have the opportunity to apply for these loans that can mean the difference between staying open and closing for good.”
The PPP was designed to help small businesses make it through the coronavirus pandemic and help employees retain their workers. In turn, the loans would be forgiven, essentially turning into a grant.
More than 4.8 million small business owners have used the program, taking more than $520 billion from the program. Currently, there’s more than $125 billion in unspent money under the PPP.
One of the reasons there’s still a significant amount of money in the program is initially some large companies applied for and received funds, including Shake Shack, Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse, and the Los Angeles Lakers NBA franchise.
While those companies were shamed into returning the money, it led to a flood of companies, states, and others giving out small business loans, especially to women- and minority-owned small businesses.
The extension still needs to be approved by the House. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) noted the extension aligns with the timeline Senate Republicans have set to complete the next stimulus package.
Many Republican lawmakers expressed a reluctance to agree on a second stimulus package a month ago. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said last month the House should wait to provide people with additional relief until lawmakers could review measures already put in place. However, the coronavirus is now hitting Republican-led states hard including Florida, Texas, and Arizona, making the need for a second stimulus package necessary.