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Senate Passes PPP Changes Providing More Flexibility

Yuval Rosenberg

The Senate Wednesday evening passed a bill modifying the Paycheck Protection Program of forgivable coronavirus relief loans to small businesses. The bill, which sailed through the House last week in a 417-1 vote, now goes to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

Among its provisions, the new Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act extends from eight weeks to 24 weeks the period that small businesses have to spend their emergency funds while still qualifying to have their loans forgiven. It also provides more flexibility in how the loans can be used, lowering the minimum percentage required to be spent on payroll from 75% to 60%. See more details here.

An earlier snag: Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin had objected to an earlier effort Wednesday to pass the bill by unanimous consent, but he reportedly agreed to the evening vote after getting a letter entered into the record clarifying that an extension of the loan program to the end of December would only lengthen the deadline for business owners to spend their funds, not the application deadline.

“We don't want to see this program automatically reauthorized until the end of December,” Johnson said, according to Roll Call. “Now there's some dispute as to whether the language actually does that. Sounds like the intent was not to do that, it was just to allow people to spend money through the end of December, which we have no problem with.”

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) will still be pursuing technical fixes to the program.

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