The Senate on Thursday approved a two-month extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, sending the bill to the president’s desk. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the legislation.
The program, designed to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic with forgivable loans, is set to expire March 31. The extension allows borrowers to apply for the loans until May 31, and the Small Business Administration will have until June 30 to process the loans. The House approved the extension last week.
Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) Introduced an amendment to the House bill that would prohibit the Small Business Administration from prioritizing one applicant over another, but the Senate rejected it with a vote of 48 to 52.
The Biden administration made several changes to the program last month, some of which have caused confusion among borrowers.
Before submitting his amendment, Rubio told Yahoo Finance that when the administration expands eligibility or makes changes beyond the intent of Congress, it politicizes the aid program that has broad bipartisan support.
“Political foci are created, which stigmatize the programs and make it more difficult to do one in the future and more difficult to extend,” said Rubio.
The Senate also rejected an amendment by Senator John Kennedy (R., Louisiana) that would prevent people convicted of a riot-related felony in the past two years from obtaining PPP loans.
If the Senate had modified the bill, the House would have had to retake it. In the full Senate, Senator Ben Cardin (D., Md.) Urged senators not to change the bill, because the House is out of session and is unlikely to adopt the legislation before the program expires. .
Senators have also raised concerns about a change the Biden administration made to make sole proprietorships eligible for more money. The change is not retroactive, which means that some borrowers who had already received the loans got less than the people who applied after the change was made. Cardin agreed to work retroactively in the future, once the program is expanded.
Jessica Smith is Chief Political Correspondent for Yahoo Finance, based in Washington, DC Follow her on Twitter at @ JessicaASmith8.