Hours before the Paycheck Protection Program was set to expire yesterday, the U.S. Senate unexpectedly passed a measure to extend the deadline for when it can stop accepting forgivable loan applications to Aug. 8.
The bill gives the Small Business Administration the authority to continue approving loans to businesses that apply. Senators approved the legislation via unanimous consent, and sent it to the House for consideration. It would have to pass in that chamber and then be signed by President Trump to become law.
There isn't much time left in which to act, as both the Senate and the House are set to adjourn for summer recess at the end of the week.
The PPP has disbursed more than $500 billion to 4.8 million businesses in an effort to help them stay afloat during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But there is more than $130 billion left in the program's coffers.
Senators picked the Aug. 8 deadline because they are hoping to pass another federal pandemic-related stimulus bill by then.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said that the administration is negotiating the extension of PPP, and expressed support for re-purposing the the money it still has on hand.