Last week, the U.S. Senate approved a measure to extend the federal Paycheck Protection Program to the end of May. The program was originally set to close on March 31.
Established last spring under the original federal CARES Act, the program was designed to help small businesses struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from the Small Business Administration, over the last year, the program as issued 7.5 million loans totaling $687 billion. According to a report in Roll Call, the legislation also grants the SBA an extra month to process applications after the program officially closes on May 31.
During the Senate debate on the legislation, several Republican Senators tried to offer amendments – including one by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, that would have stopped the SBA from prioritizing some businesses over others. However, these amendments were defeated in favor of running a “clean bill” that mirrored the version passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier in March by a vote of 415 to 3.
Following the rejection of the Republican offered amendments, the Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 92 to 7. The bill now heads to President Biden, who has indicated he will sign it.