Bipartisan bill would make changes to Paycheck Protection Program

Reps. Dean Phillips (D-Minn) and Chip Roy (R-Texas) introduced bipartisan legislation Monday that would make changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aimed at providing additional help to employers trying to weather the financial fallout caused by the coronavirus crisis.

The PPP was authorized in legislation earlier this year to provide forgivable loans to struggling small businesses. But the lawmakers say more needs to be done to help employers stay afloat and that changes to the program could make a substantial difference.

The measure, titled the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, includes language that would extend PPP loan forgiveness for expenses beyond the eight weeks allotted under current policy in hopes that businesses will be able to keep more of their workers on the payroll. It would also allow businesses to utilize more than 25 percent of the loan for purposes that extend beyond payroll and allow the term of the loan to extend beyond two years.

The bill also includes language that would ensure businesses have full access to payroll tax deferment and would extend the rehiring deadline past June 30.

Phillips, who highlighted his experience as a small business owner, said the current policy isn’t accessible to all employers who need the aid.

“While the PPP has helped millions of small businesses keep their lights on, millions more remain on the outside looking in. It won’t matter how much money we appropriate if the system by which it’s distributed is inaccessible to those who need it the most,” Phillips said in a statement.

“As an entrepreneur and small business owner myself, I understand the challenges facing businesses struggling to survive this crisis. These common-sense solutions will provide the flexibility necessary to weather the storm and prepare for uncertain times ahead.”

Roy said noted that a number of “businesses are already four weeks into the loan,” adding that he believes due to the uncertain circumstances they will need more flexibility.

“Unfortunately, for many of these business owners, particularly local restaurants, hotels, and those in the hospitality industry, the terms are too inflexible to provide the help they need to weather the economic storm,” he said in a statement.

“PPP cannot protect jobs if workers have no job to return to after state and local lockdowns are lifted. After listening to business owners, I will be introducing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act to provide essential flexibility to PPP loans. Time is of the essence.”

-The Hill