Business groups celebrated Wednesday's Senate passage of legislation to provide more flexibility for the coronavirus relief Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which trade organizations have been lobbying for.
PPP is intended to help small businesses and the bill, which the House passed last month, extends the time allowed for firms to spend the loans, as well as where they can be used.
The $2.2 trillion coronavirus package signed into law in March gave businesses eight weeks to spend the loan funds, and this bill would extend that to 24. It would also change a requirement that businesses have to spend 75 percent of the loan on payroll and 25 percent on non-payroll costs, like rent and utilities, to 60 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
The National Restaurant Association has been advocating for both changes. Sean Kennedy, its executive vice president, called the Senate’s action a “win” for restaurants.
“The National Restaurant Association was one of the first to call for improvements to PPP to preserve our imperiled industry. In an era where political discord is the norm and agreement is fleeting, the voice of the restaurant industry has been a unifying theme. This bill passed because Congress heard from us loudly and clearly,” Kennedy said in a statement.
The travel industry, which has also been struggling through the pandemic, would benefit from the changes because businesses have had high overhead with nearly no revenue due to stay-at-home and distancing measures, the U.S. Travel Association said.
“The PPP changes passed by both chambers are another important step in providing relief to small businesses that otherwise will not survive until the economic recovery phase,” Travel Association executive vice president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes said in a statement.
Barnes also called for more changes to PPP, including extending eligibility to non-profit and quasi-governmental entities.
The International Franchise Association also released a statement praising the Senate for passing the bill, which now heads to President Trump's desk.
“America’s small businesses needed this bill,” said Matt Haller, senior vice president of government relations and public affairs. “By providing flexibility and certainty in how they can use PPP loans, small businesses — franchise or otherwise — can use this funding to stay in business, retain their employees, and give back to their communities.”
TechNet, a network of tech industry executives, urged Trump to sign the bill immediately.
“TechNet was proud to support this bill in Congress because it allows businesses to make decisions that benefit their employees instead of being forced to make decisions based on arbitrary metrics,” CEO Linda Moore said in a statement.