The Senate has passed an extension of the popular Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, which was set to close down Tuesday night with more than $130 billion in funding left over.
The extension to Aug. 8 was offered by Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, and cleared the chamber by unanimous consent. The House has yet to take up the bill.
The Small Business Administration, which ran the PPP with the Treasury Department, was set to stop accepting new applications at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday. The $669 billion program had approved more than 4.8 million loans totaling $520.6 billion as of Tuesday night, the SBA said. There was $134.5 billion remaining as of Saturday that will be returned to Treasury unless Congress re-purposes it.
Cardin said that the June 30 deadline was a “reasonable assumption” when the PPP program was established in March. “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.”
PPP loan money used for payroll in accordance with guidelines do not have to be repaid.
Senator Rick Scott, a Florida Republican attempted to amend the extension to limit future loans to the most needy businesses, but dropped that attempt in the face of objections from Cardin, who said the PPP could be modified in the next round of stimulus.