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Senate approves a 5-week extension of the Paycheck Protection Program

Two rounds, multiple bills and $670 billion later, the Paycheck Protection Program was about to expire June 30.

However, the program’s complex path took another turn late on June 30, as the Senate passed by unanimous consent a five-week PPP extension - mere hours ahead of the application window’s scheduled close. The surprise move is intended to provide more time for small businesses to apply for the approximately $129 billion in remaining PPP funds.

Next up: Passage in the House of Representatives – and then eventual signing into law by President Trump before the extension can take effect. Action should be swift as both chambers of Congress are expected to adjourn by the end of the week for a two-week recess.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which oversees the program with the Treasury Department, stopped accepting loan applications at midnight Tuesday. The plan approved by the Senate on Tuesday night would extend the application period until Aug. 8.

The PPP - roiled by controversy, hang-ups in Congress over changes to the program, technical issues, and confusing guidelines – has managed to push out billions of dollars to small businesses over the course of less than three months. The loans—which were designed to provide emergency relief to businesses with 500 or fewer employees—topped out at $10 million per loan and could be converted into grants if certain conditions were met.

Key lawmakers lauded the extension. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said in a tweet that extending the deadline was an important step, and that the next step should be to pass a second round of PPP loans to aid the smallest businesses with the most need. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, said in a tweet that he did not object to extending the PPP deadline until Aug. 8 but that the vast majority of small businesses that wanted PPP funds have already used the program.

As of Tuesday morning, the program has gotten funds to over 4.8 million small businesses, with loans totaling over $519 billion, according to the latest data from the Small Business Administration.

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