Senate passes fixes to Paycheck Protection Program designed to keep small business afloat during coronavirus

Senate passes fixes to Paycheck Protection Program designed to keep small business afloat during coronavirusSmall business owners share their difficult and confusing journeys in applying for the Paycheck Protection Program loan.

WASHINGTON – The Senate Wednesday passed legislation giving thousands of restaurants, nail salons and other small businesses greater access to the Paycheck Protection Program, the federal lifeline designed to help them stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some Republicans initially objected to the measure over technical issues and a desire to close loopholes to prevent the money from going to businesses less in need of financial help. But they agreed to pass the bill while they work on legislation to make further reforms.

The bill, which overwhelmingly passed in the House last week and is now headed to President Donald Trump's desk, loosens some key rules regarding loan repayment and spending restrictions of the PPP.

The program, created in March as part of the nearly $2 trillion CARES Act, has provided nearly 4.5 million small businesses with an infusion of cash to keep their workers on the payroll during the coronavirus pandemic that has devastated the U.S. economy and upended daily life.

The $660 billion programprovides businesses employing up to 500 workers forgivable loans of as much as $10 million. The average loan is $113,705, according to the Small Business Administration.

But many businesses said the program's structure is too rigid to accommodate different types of small businesses, especially restaurants whose rent-heavy expenses do not fit well in a program that prioritizes rehiring of employees.

Unintended beneficiaries:Hundreds of publicly traded companies got more than $1 billion from PPP small-business fund

The new changes would:

Lower to 60% from 75% the minimum portion of the PPP loan that must be spent on payroll. The rest must be spent on rent, utilities and other business-related expenses.Extend from eight to 24 weeks the amount of time the loan can cover.Extend from two to five years the time new PPP loans must be paid back if the amount provided doesn't convert into a grant.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, said increasing the amount of money businesses can spend on non-payroll expenses is crucial to keep them running.

Questions answered:Confused by the US government's small business loan program? You're not alone. Here's your guide

Red ink:4 coronavirus stimulus packages. $2.4 trillion in funding. See what that means to the national debt

"In my home state of New York with high rents, high utility costs, many businesses were frozen out when it was 25% but 40 will get them in," he said on the Senate floor Wednesday. "And that applies to most of your high-cost areas throughout the country."

The National Federation of Independent Businesses has endorsed the bill, saying it would clear up some of the confusion surrounding the program's rules and give mom-and-pop enterprises more time and flexibility to open.



News Related


Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »