Small business owners just got a little more time to apply for funds intended help them weather the coronavirus crisis.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump signed an extension to the CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers forgivable loans to businesses that keep employees on payroll throughout the pandemic. The Senate and House of Representatives had approved the extension last week as the clock ran out on the PPP's application period.
The PPP extension pushes the June 30 application deadline to Aug. 8.
The decision to prolong the period was largely tied to the fact that the PPP has a ton of money left in it. As of June 27, there was still some $134 billion up for grabs, according to the Small Business Administration.
While senators like Ben Cardin, D-Md., reportedly expressed their support Tuesday for the PPP extension, other lawmakers weren't so sure about the details. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted that "the vast majority of [small businesses] that wanted to benefit from the program have already used it," adding "what we really need to pass very soon is targeted help for those who need a second round of aid."
Similarly, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he may want to direct the leftovers to "businesses that are most hard hit, that had a requirement that their revenues have dropped significantly, things like restaurants and hotels and others where it is critical they get people back to work."
This is just the latest installment in the PPP saga. When applications first opened, there were issues with overwhelmed lenders, tech glitches and outcry over large companies like Ruth's Chris that received huge sums of money. The extension also follows the June enactment of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which loosened the requirements for borrowers hoping to get their PPP loans fully forgiven.
So far, roughly 4.9 million loans have been approved for about $521 billion through the PPP, which is overseen by the SBA but relies on individual lenders to make the actual loans. The average loan size is just over $107,000.
As the U.S. deals with a recent surge in coronavirus cases, politicians on both side of the aisle appear to agree that small businesses are still in danger — and, as a result, need special attention in any future stimulus packages. Stay tuned for the specifics.
This story has been updated to include the news that Trump signed the PPP extension legislation.