United States Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delivers comments at a weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 28, 2020.
Tom Brenner | Computers
The Chamber passed a bill Thursday designed to give small businesses flexibility in how they spend money from a major coronavirus assistance program.
The chamber approved the law with a nearly unanimous 417-1 vote. The Senate has proposed a plan similar to the House bill, but has not yet passed it. The senators will not meet again until next week.
The Paycheck Protection Program, one of the major components of the $ 2 trillion foreign rescue package passed in March, includes standards for how companies should use their loans to forgive them. The measure passed Thursday would ease the rules.
The plan is:
- Reduce the share of small business assistance money is required to spend payroll from 75% to 60% (PPP architects aim to encourage companies to retain workers)
- Expand businesses in the window that need to use funds from two months to six months
- Push back a June 30 deadline on rehire workers
- Extend the recipients the time the loan is due
- Let companies get a payroll tax exemption loan
Democrats and Republicans have approved tweaks to the small business debt program as they struggle to find a consensus on the next phase of relief from the pandemonium-created economic collapse. Democrats want a broad package to provide relief to state and local governments, send more direct payments to individuals and extend an enhanced federal unemployment insurance benefit.
While the GOP questioned the need to spend more taxpayer money on recovery efforts, it pushed for liability protections for businesses and doctors as much of the country was re-trading. Democrats criticized the potential for a broad shield from suits.
Congress first injected $ 350 billion into small business programs in March last March. After the money ran dry, lawmakers put another $ 310 billion on the PPP – with $ 60 billion dedicated to small lenders.
After a tumultuous rollout of the massive program, critics said it was not enough to do business to help businesses without a banking relationship.
The House for the second straight day used a remote proxy voting system that was temporarily implemented during the coronavirus crisis to keep lawmakers safe. Dozens of representatives voted on the bill through a proxy Thursday.
Republicans have challenged the procedure in court, calling it unconstitutional.
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