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Senate Passes PPP Extension Bill, Which Now Awaits Signature From White House

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jun 4, 2020
The Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that would, among other things, extend the time frame for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness from eight weeks to 24, according to the Wall Street Journal. The House of Representatives passed the legislation last week by a vote of 471-1, so it now awaits the president's signature.

Under the CARES Act that created the PPP, the amount of money that loan recipients can be forgiven for is contingent on how much they spent on payroll over eight weeks, with the minimum qualifying amount being 75 percent. For some business owners, however, meeting those requirements put them in a difficult spot, as the rules limit their ability to pay for other expenses, such as rent and utiities.

Further, some have no more payroll expenses to actually use the loans on, because they laid off their workers with the intention of hiring them back when the economy got better, and apparently did not want to just keep employees on payroll without working and use the loans to cover their regular paychecks.

This has meant that even though businesses have received the funds, they can't actually use them for what they believe they need, especially within a short eight-week time frame. Additionally, loan recipients must have the same employee count and compensation after the eight-week loan period as they did before, meaning they will need to rehire employees they let go, which has caused issues with some business owners whose employees don't want to come back.

In response to these issues, the Senate bill would extend the eight-week window to 24 weeks; extend the deadline to rehire workers to Dec. 31; reduce the amount that must specifically be used on payroll from 75 to 60 percent (though now this 60 percent is a cliff rather than a tapering-off point); give borrowers five years instead of two to pay back unforgiven debt; and allow businesses to defer payroll tax.

Furthermore, the bill would allow certain exemptions to the employee-retention requirement. Borrowers would not be penalized if they could, in good faith, document an inability to rehire individuals who had been let go or hire new qualified employees, or document an inability to return to the same level of business activity as before due to compliance with the requirements established by health authorities.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses
praised the bill's passage, saying it provides business owners with much-needed flexibility.

"The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 will further help many small businesses impacted by COVID-19 by reducing the payroll limitation of the program and extending the loan forgiveness period," said Kevin Kuhlman, vice president of government relations for the federation. "We are pleased the Senate approved this important bill for small businesses, and we look forward to continuing to work with members in the chamber on improving the Paycheck Protection Program. We urge the President to sign the bill into law swiftly and deliver this much-needed flexibility for small business owners."

On the other hand, according to the Journal, some business leaders say the help is too late to save struggling businesses.

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