WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A program that was set up to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic is set to expire next week — unless Congress acts first. Senators on Capitol Hill from both sides of the aisle are now pushing for an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program.
With money from the COVID relief package going out to people across the country, Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff says Congress needs to work fast on doing more for small businesses.
“Now what we must do and what I’m urging my colleagues to do is to swiftly pass an extension of the PPP small business support program through May,” Sen. Ossoff said.
The American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier this month included additional cash for the Paycheck Protection Program, but not an extension of the program itself. The program is set to expire one week from Wednesday and still has $128 billion up for grabs.
Ossoff is calling on his colleagues to act now to pass an extension, “to help keep small businesses which are struggling, like local restaurants mom and pop shops, afloat.”
Unlike many other things in Washington, the extension proposal is bipartisan. And seven GOP senators already support it.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, expects to get even more to sign on.
“This is one of the most successful programs that we did together for COVID relief,” Capito said Wednesday.
Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., supports his own measure to extend the program but in a way he says will ensure “the Biden administration won’t freeze out small businesses that were eligible before.”
But Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, who worked with Rubio on passing the first round of PPP, said the Senate should focus on approving an extension and work on the specifics later.
“There are other modifications to the program that we will have an opportunity to discuss,” Sen. Cardin said Wednesday on the Senate floor.
There’s no word yet on just when the extension will be brought up for a vote. The program expires on March 31.
This weekend marks one year since the CARES Act was enacted. In that time, the Small Business Administration has approved 8.2 million PPP loans worth more than $715 billion, Cardin said.