WASHINGTON (CN) — The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a measure giving small businesses until Aug. 8 to apply for a federal loan initiative meant to help them stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The House unanimously approved the measure on Wednesday afternoon, extending the window for small businesses to apply the Paycheck Protection Program through Aug. 8. The Senate passed the measure on Tuesday, shortly before the original loan approval window closed at midnight.
“As coronavirus cases surge across the country and countless businesses are forced to shutter, American workers and small businesses desperately need action to protect their lives and livelihoods,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the extension.
The Paycheck Protection Program allows small businesses to take out loans that can be forgiven if the money is used to cover payroll, rent, utilities and certain other expenses during widespread closures and operating restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Through June 27, the program had approved more than 4.7 million loans totaling $518 billion. The average loan approved under the program is $108,000, with more than 66% going for $50,000 or less, according to the Small Business Administration.
Though the program has been broadly popular, Democrats have ramped up calls recently for the Trump administration to release more information on who is receiving the loans. In her statement, Pelosi said without the information it is impossible to tell whether the loans are reaching “our most impacted communities.”
The initial $350 billion given to the program quickly ran out, leading to contentious negotiations that eventually led to $310 billion more going into its coffers. Congress has since passed legislation giving greater flexibility to how businesses can spend the money they receive under the program.
Congress is also expected to work on an additional coronavirus response package as cases tick up again in parts of the country, but the contours of that bill are not clear as Congress prepares to leave Washington for its planned July 4 recess.