President Joe Biden has signed a bill extending the Paycheck Protection Program.
Watch the signing in the video player above.
Speaking in the Oval Office, with Vice President Kamala Harris and Small Business Administration administrator Isabella Guzman, before signing the extension Biden said his administration was “pushing lenders to raise their game.”
“Many small businesses, particularly Hispanic as well as African American small businesses are just out of business because they got bypassed the first time around,” Biden said.
He said the extension was “a bipartisan accomplishment,” and thanked a group of bipartisan members of Congress for their assistance.
The Senate passed a bill 92-7 last Thursday to extend the deadline for business owners to apply for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, giving applicants two more months to apply for federal aid. Congress started the loan program last year to help businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
The deadline for applications would be extended to May 31 under the bill, and the federal government would have until June 30 to process the applications.
The COVID-19 relief bill that Biden signed into law this month included another $7.25 billion for the program, but it did not extend the timeline for getting the loans. Business groups lobbied lawmakers to keep the program going to help ensure businesses that still need help can get it.
The Small Business Administration reports that it has approved nearly 7.9 million loans totaling about $704 billion.
The loans are structured so that they can be fully forgiven if the recipient attempts to maintain similar levels of employment and uses at least 60 percent of the loan to cover payroll costs. The remaining 40 percent can be spent of rent, utility costs and other operational expenses.
“This bipartisan legislation comes at a time when small business owners are still grappling with the economic effects of the pandemic and extending the Paycheck Protection Program, even for just a short time to exhaust existing funding, will help some of the small businesses that need it most,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.