The U.S. Senate on Tuesday, 30 June, passed a bill that would extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through 8 August, just hours before the application period for the small business COVID-19 loan program ended.
The measure still needs to be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, which could take up the bill as early as Wednesday, 1 July.
The bipartisan plan to extend the forgivable loan program designed to keep workers on payrolls was hatched by U.S. senators Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and others.
“We thought by the end of June that our economy would be back on track and we would not need to have additional applications after that date,” Cardin said on the Senate floor Tuesday, 30 June. “Well, a lot has changed since March of this year.”
The bill received unanimous support in the Senate.
“The Paycheck Protection Program provided a critical lifeline to more than 4.8 million small businesses,” Rubio said in a statement. “As the scope of the financial damage done to small businesses by the pandemic and resulting lockdowns has grown, it has become clear that longer-term support is necessary.”
Time is somewhat of the essence as lawmakers are scheduled to take a two-week break for the 4 July holiday after this week.
The move to extend the loan program comes just days after the U.S. Small Business Administration extended eligibility to seafood vessel owners who use independent contractors for labor. However, some in the fishing industry complained that lending institutions they contacted were no longer processing applications for the program, even though nearly USD 130 billion (EUR 115.47 billion) of the USD 650 billion (EUR 577.36 billion) for the program remained available as of Tuesday, 30 June.
“We have heard feedback since last week and into this evening that fishermen simply did not have enough time to gather the required materials for their applications given the tight turnaround after the rule change late last week,” Leah Habegger, executive director of Seafood Harvesters of America, told SeafoodSource on Monday, 29 June. “This extension will provide captains and crew enough time to apply for loans and fully realize the benefits of the PPP. We are grateful for the Senate's quick work tonight and hope to see this extension pass swiftly in the House and head to the president's desk."
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