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House Follows Senate In Passing Extension Of COVID-19 Business Loans

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gestures toward Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell, as they appear before a House Committee on Financial Services hearing on oversight of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve pandemic response, on Tuesday in Washington.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gestures toward Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell, as they appear before a House Committee on Financial Services hearing on oversight of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve pandemic response, on Tuesday in Washington.

House members unanimously passed an extension of the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program, aimed at helping small businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The voice vote came a day after the Senate approved the measure.

The PPP had expired Tuesday at midnight. If President Trump signs the extension, the program will operate through Aug. 8.

The program was created as part of the original $3 trillion package of economic pandemic relief measures that passed Congress in March. The forgivable loans, doled out by the Small Business Administration, are meant to help small businesses keep employees on the payroll despite lockdowns and a general downturn in business as a result of the coronavirus.

There was a scramble to claim the first round, amounting to $349 billion, which was exhausted in just 13 days. A second round of $310 billion has not been fully spent.

On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested the remaining $140 billion in loans under the program could be repurposed to aid restaurants, hotels and other industries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The extension passed by Congress is aimed at keeping the spigot open while lawmakers mull reworking the program.

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