Biden signs PPP small-business aid extension into law one day before it was set to expire

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • Biden signed the PPP Extension Act into law on Tuesday.
  • This bill extends the small business lending program by two months, through May 31.
  • It also allows the Small Business Administration to continue processing applications through the end of June.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One day before it was set to expire, on Tuesday President Joe Biden signed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) extension into law, extending federal aid for small businesses through May 31.

Five days ago, the Senate sent the PPP Extension Act to Biden’s desk, which extends the small-business lending program by two months and permits the Small Business Administration to continue processing loan applications through the end of June. In both the House and the Senate, the bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, and Biden declared the law a “bipartisan accomplishment.”

“Without signing this bill today, there are hundreds of thousands of people who would lose their jobs, and small family businesses that might close forever,” Biden said before signing the bill.

Lawmakers lauded the passage of the PPP extension, given that many small business are still suffering financial hits brought on by the pandemic. That’s why Biden included $50 billion in small business aid in his stimulus plan, including $7.25 billion specifically for the PPP.

According to recent SBA data, the PPP has given out 8.2 million small-business loans thus far, totaling $718 billion, helping many small businesses continue paying their bills throughout the pandemic.

Since it was established under the CARES Act in March, though, the PPP’s loan disbursement has come in for criticism. For example, although loans within the program are intended for businesses with 500 or fewer employees, some large companies got them, such as fast-food chain Shake Shack getting $10 million, which it later returned.

Separately, the Office of the Inspector General found the PPP had distributed duplicate loans to over 4,000 borrowers due to problems in the SBA’s controls, which would have to be paid back.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said the benefits of the PPP outweigh its detriments and are needed to provide pandemic relief to small businesses across the country.

“These loans have saved small businesses throughout our nation,” Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said on the Senate floor last week. “They would not be here today but for this program.”

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Senior Democrat caught on hot mic suggests bypassing Republicans on infrastructure

Ben Cardin
Sen. Ben Cardin.

  • Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin was heard suggesting reconciliation for the upcoming infrastructure bill.
  • He cited likely Republican opposition and said the bill will resemble the $1.9 trillion stimulus.
  • Conservatives and moderates have already complained about the prospect of another reconciliation bill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A senior Democratic senator, Ben Cardin of Maryland, was overheard in a “hot mic” moment saying the next trillion-dollar spending bill will probably have to bypass Republicans once again.

In a moment caught by C-SPAN on Monday, the chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure was overheard telling Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg that Democrats will likely have to use reconciliation to pass an infrastructure bill, Politico first reported.

Democrats recently used reconciliation to pass the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” which President Joe Biden signed into law on Thursday. The infrastructure bill could carry an even larger price tag, and Cardin said Democrats will “most likely have to use reconciliation” to pass that one, too.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be put together similar,” Cardin told Buttigieg when speaking about the infrastructure bill. “The Republicans will be with you to a point, and then -” he tailed off, suggesting that GOP backing would taper off as Democrats assemble a large bill.

House Democrats officially began working on an infrastructure package on Friday, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying in a statement that she aims to negotiate with Republicans on the legislative details.

She said it was her hope that bipartisanship would “prevail as we address other critical needs in energy and broadband, education and housing, water systems and other priorities.”

President Joe Biden has already held infrastructure talks with bipartisan groups of lawmakers. On February 11, he met with four bipartisan senators on the topic, and in the beginning of March, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers joined the president to discuss possible funding methods.

After the latter meeting with Biden, Sam Graves, ranking member of the House Committee of Transportation and Infrastructure, criticized the prospect of another party-line procedure.

The next bill “cannot be a ‘my way or the highway’ approach like last Congress,” he said, referring to previous Democratic legislation advanced under Pelosi.

“First and foremost, a highway bill cannot grow into a multitrillion-dollar catch-all bill, or it will lose Republican support,” Graves said. “We have to be responsible, and a bill whose cost is not offset will lose Republican support.”

The Biden administration is reportedly weighing tax increases on wealthy Americans and large corporations to finance at least part of its domestic spending plans. Still, some experts say a significant portion of the legislation could be deficit-financed, citing the low cost of federal borrowing and the nature of infrastructure spending as a one-off investment in the economy.

On the Democratic side of the Senate, the influential moderate Joe Manchin of West Virginia said in an “Axios on HBO” interview that Democrats need to work with Republicans on the next big spending bill.

“I’m not going to do it through reconciliation,” Manchin said. “I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them [Republicans] out completely before we start trying.”

Biden has not yet announced specific funding plans for an infrastructure bill, although his campaign platform included a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal. Manchin has said he could support a bill worth up to $4 trillion, as long as it was paid for adequately.

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