U.S. House votes to relax coronavirus-related small business loan program

The United States House voted Thursday to give small businesses financially strapped by the COVID-19 crisis more flexibility to spend forgivable loans on wages and expenses for the popular paycheck protection program of the government.

The 417-1 vote sends the measure to the Senate, which can request changes. Sponsors of the bill say urgent action is needed as the eight-week period in which proceeds must be spent for loans to be canceled will begin to expire on Friday for the first loan recipients after the Small program opens. Business Administration April 3.

The House measure would give businesses a lot more time to spend the money – within 24 weeks or until the end of the year, whichever comes first – and would still be eligible for their cancellation. PPP loans. Businesses would also have up to five years, instead of two years, to repay any money owed on a loan and could use a higher percentage of the proceeds from rent and other approved non-salary expenses.

“The true time of emergency has evolved over time and this bill responds to it,” said Steve Chabot of Ohio, the top Republican on the Small Business Committee. “The flexibility this allows for small businesses in America will go a long way in addressing concerns that we have heard time and time again. “

Bill’s co-sponsor Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota, said restaurants and hotel businesses are in particular need of this new flexibility as many employees have not been allowed to return to work.

“This bill will help people in the way they need to, and we don’t have a moment to waste,” said Phillips, urging his colleagues to “listen to our 11 million restaurant workers.”

The measure’s Republican co-sponsor, Chip Roy of Texas, said companies were struggling to meet the deadline for rehiring workers in part because extending UI was discouraging employees from returning to work .

The Senate is expected to consider the bill next week. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday that the House and Senate should be able to quickly agree on the changes.

But Small Business Senate Chairman Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said in a statement that certain provisions of the House bill “could create an unintentional deterrent from rehiring and create new and serious burdens on borrowers. PPP in terms of forgiveness “. He said he would work to ensure that “the changes needed to increase flexibility don’t inadvertently harm business owners and employees in the process.”

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