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Paycheck Protection Program Expansion? 

Senator Ron Wyden seeks to expand federal government assistance to businesses as they start to rehire their employees

On Wednesday, U.S. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden introduced a bipartisan bill to give small businesses more time to rehire their former employees. He said in a statement he has heard from many business owners in Oregon that they have had difficulty accessing these loans. Wyden wants to push back the deadline to apply, and provide more time for businesses to receive assistance.

click image U.S. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden - JD LASICA
  • JD Lasica
  • U.S. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) allows small businesses to apply for loans with their bank in order to pay their employees. The PPP is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 27. The program currently requires employers to rehire their workers by June 30 in order to qualify for loan forgiveness. Wyden’s bill would extend the rehire date an additional eight weeks: The crisis has lasted longer than the authors of the PPP expected. Right now, the program for wage/salary reimbursement only lasts for eight weeks - this bill would extend the program to 16 weeks. This means the government would pay employees for four months instead of two months to give businesses more time to recover from the crisis.

Under the PPP, businesses must restore their employee’s full-time employment and salary levels: If the business meets that requirement, the federal government will forgive their entire loan. The business must use 75% of the funds for payroll, and can use one-quarter of the funds for other expenses like rent and utilities.

Wyden introduced this new bill, called Paycheck Protection Program Deadline Extension Adjustment for Loans (DEAL) Act, on May 13, along with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-West Virginia). It is co-sponsored by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Patrick Leahy, (D-Vermont) and Cory Gardner, (R-Colorado).

Romney sums up the bill like this:

“For many of Utah’s small businesses, the 8-week period they are allowed to use their PPP loan is quickly approaching, but they remain closed or far from full capacity as our economy remains paused to fight the spread of COVID-19,” he said in a statement. “Our legislation doubles the amount of time business have to use their loan, which will help provide the flexibility they need to reopen and rehire their employees without risking their eligibility for loan forgiveness.”

"Oregon is a small business state,” Wyden said. “Our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and right now they are teetering on the edge of the financial cliff. The mom and pop shops of Main Street want to keep paying their employees, and they want to pay their bills. My phone has been ringing off the hook with small businesses who have been struggling to access relief because of delays and other issues. The least Congress can do is extend these arbitrary deadlines."

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