WASHINGTON — The coronavirus death toll hits 100,000 this week as House members return to Washington to consider changes to the coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program loans.
There’s a bipartisan stand-alone bill ready for debate in the House that’s building traction.
In California, there are millions of businesses and for those fortunate enough to get and receive PPP loans, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agree there are some flaws in the program.
For places like restaurants that don’t have as many employees working at this time, some places have yet to use up all of their loans from PPP.
The original guidance says owners must use the money within eight weeks, which means, for some, the deadline is around the corner in June.
The biggest difference for this new stand-alone House bill is to extend that period to 24 weeks, triple the original timeframe.
On top of that, this bill would get rid of some of the requirements businesses need to meet in order to qualify for full loan forgiveness.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-12) says the stand-alone House bill would also extend the time businesses have to rehire employees and give them more time to pay back loans that didn’t turn into grants.
Democrat Tony Cardenas said there’s an important provision he wants Congress to consider regarding PPP Loans. He said through the intel congressmen are receiving, minority businesses aren’t getting the funds they deserve with some experts saying a big challenge is that a number of large banks don’t have branches in large minority neighborhoods.
Cardenas also introduced a bill that would require the Small Business Administration to track the PPP funds and the demographics in order to ensure the money is divided without prejudice or discrepancies. He said he’s especially worried about his district in San Fernando Valley and around Southern California where there are large minority populations.
“I was getting calls in my office from medium-sized businesses and smaller, smaller businesses,” Cardenas said. “I was hearing from businesses that were asking for $1.5 million, and they were getting that money within three, four, five days of the application—yet the smaller asks from the smaller businesses were not getting correspondence.”
Cardenas’ bill is included in the HEROES Act which sits in the Senate after passing the House.
“A lot of our minority businesses, a lot of the small and women-owned businesses, are not getting those PPP Loans, and unfortunately if they don’t get those loans, they may have to shut their doors, and some of them may never come back,” Cardenas said. “That means a loss of jobs, a loss of dreams, and that means an opportunity that we’ve lost even though we’ve been over a trillion dollars into this effort.”
While Cardenas approves of the latest stand-alone House bill for PPP changes, he said he hopes ensuring minority businesses receive PPP fairly should be a big part of this next round of coronavirus legislation.
This week’s PPP bill in the House would also scrap the 25% rule which says no more than that of the funds can be used on other expenses than payroll.
There is a similar bill in the Senate that extends loan forgiveness to 16 weeks, rather than 24 weeks, and would also allow businesses to use their money for protective equipment and investments for reopening.
There’s another bill in the Senate, with less traction, that includes an extension like the House for up to 24 weeks. Republicans said there is a “large consensus” about extending the timeframe of which businesses can use the loans.
The state of California has received the largest amount of dollars of PPP at $33 billion, approved for over 112,000 loans, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. The program in total still has about $100 billion left to distribute.
The Senate could choose to vote this week or next on either the House bill or their own.