A bipartisan group of House lawmakers agreed to extend the deadline for small business owners to apply for a government loan as delays continue to mount, Politico reported.
Members of the House Small Business Committee agreed to move the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application deadline from March 31 to May 31, aides for the committee’s leaders told Politico Thursday. The agreement also gives the Small Business Administration (SBA), the agency tasked with awarding PPP loans, an extra 30 days after the new deadline to finish processing applications.
“It’s clear that small businesses still need help but lingering issues in the program have led to the need for Congress to consider a short-term extension beyond March 31,” Democratic New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who chairs the Small Business Committee, said in a statement prior to the agreement.
Velazquez struck the deal with committee’s ranking member Republican Missouri Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, according to Politico. The bipartisan extension could be voted on in the House as soon as next week, but could face roadblocks in the Senate, which requires unanimous agreement to bypass a floor debate.
PPP loans have been delayed over the last few months as the SBA has instituted new measures to combat fraud, Politico reported. Bank of America has stopped offering PPP applications because of the delays, fearing the SBA may not clear the loans by March 31.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, SBA has approved more than 7.5 million PPP loans. The agency has doled out more than $687.3 billion to small business owners as part of the program.
President Joe Biden created a 14-day exclusivity period from Feb. 24 to March 9, where only the smallest businesses and nonprofits could receive loans. The exclusivity period was among a series of changes to the program that the Biden administration has implemented.
“Expanding equity and opportunity in the Paycheck Protection Program is a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration,” Patrick Kelley, associate administrator for SBA’s Office of Capital Access, said in a statement. “More than just providing access, the latest data represents a step in the right direction for our agency-wide mission to support the smallest of small businesses.”