Senate votes to extend PPP through May, continuing aid for small businesses

GettyImages chuck schumer
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
  • The Senate passed a bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program through May 31.
  • The small business lending program was set to expire in six days.
  • The bill allows the Small Business Administration to process loan applications through June 30.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ahead of an expiration date six days away, the Senate passed a bill on Thursday to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through May 31, allowing small businesses to continue receiving emergency aid.

Last week, the House passed the PPP Extension Act, which would extend the small-business-lending program through the end of May and permits the Small Business Administration to continue processing loan applications through the end of June. On Thursday, right before leaving Washington until mid-April, the Senate voted to pass the extension with overwhelming bipartisan support, by a vote of 92-7.

-House Committee on Small Business (@HouseSmallBiz) March 25, 2021

According to SBA data released on Sunday, the PPP has given out 8.2 million small businesses loans thus far, totaling $US718 ($946) million, and the program, along with the help of other pandemic aid from the government, has helped small businesses continue paying their bills throughout the pandemic.

But the PPP is not without its flaws. Since its establishment under the CARES Act in March, the program has faced issues with loan distribution. For example, although loans within the program are intended for businesses with 500 or fewer employees, large companies received loans, such as fast-food chain Shake Shack getting $US10 ($13) million, which it later returned.

And last week, the Office of the Inspector General found that the PPP had distributed duplicate loans to over 4,000 borrowers due to problems in the SBA’s controls, duplicates that would have to be clawed back.

However, lawmakers emphasize that small businesses are still reeling from pandemic-driven financial strains and require further aid for recovery. That’s why President Joe Biden’s stimulus bill included $US50 ($66) billion for small business aid, along with $US7.25 ($10) billion specifically for the PPP.

“These loans have saved small businesses throughout our nation,” Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “They would not be here today but for this program.”

The bill now heads to Biden’s desk to be signed into law.