By Justin Sinkand Mario Parker
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed legislation extending the period small businesses have to apply for forgivable loans to help offset costs of the coronavirus pandemic, hailing it as a “bipartisan accomplishment.”
Biden, in a brief Oval Office ceremony, said he was proud to sign the legislation, saying without it people would lose jobs.
The legislation will extend the deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 from March 31, giving businesses two additional months to apply. The legislation also provides the Small Business Administration an additional 30 days to process loans, in a bid to address longer wait times after the government began more strictly screening applications to prevent fraud.
The program – first established during the Trump administration – provides small businesses with fee-free federally backed loans. Expenses related to payroll, rent and operations expenditures can be forgiven, meaning many of the loans will convert into grants from the federal government.
The SBA says it has approved more than 8.7 million loans valued at over $734 billion. Some $194.5 billion has already been forgiven by the government, according to the agency’s data.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced tweaks to the program – including a two-week exclusive application window for businesses with fewer than 20 employees and a new calculation formula for sole proprietors. The White House said those changes would help those who struggled to secure loans during early days of the program.