An architect of the small-business Paycheck Protection Program is pushing for a quick Senate vote on extending the program Thursday before the chamber leaves for a Memorial Day recess.
Senator Marco Rubio, chairman of the Small Business Committee, said he is “increasingly optimistic” there will be bipartisan support to lengthen the current eight-week time period during which businesses must use the loan money to pay employees and for other expenses to have the loan forgiven.
The Senate may vote Thursday on such a change by unanimous consent, which allows expedited consideration of legislation, according to a person familiar with the plans. The length of the extension hasn’t yet been determined, the person said.
Rubio said in a video posted on Twitter Wednesday that he expected an effort in the Senate this week to pass a measure extending the loan-forgiveness period to as many as 16 weeks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote next week on a separate PPP measure. Lawmakers are discussing lengthening the period to 24 weeks and making other changes such as relaxing a requirement that at least 75% of proceeds must be spent on payroll. Some companies want to spend more on rent and other expenses.
Rubio has said he hoped for a bill just extending the loan-forgiveness period.
Republicans and Democrats alike have heard from business owners worried about running out of money to pay their employees. Any individual senator could object to the measure, though, which would prevent it from being passed this week.