In a voice vote, the U.S. Senate has passed a new $484 billion COVID-19 relief bill.
Of that amount, some $310 billion will go directly to the Paycheck Protection Program, with $60 billion slated for community banks and smaller lenders.
The measure has been widely anticipated by the nation’s small business community, which has been hit hard since the spread of the coronavirus, and comes after several days of discussions between Senate leaders and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
The bill is now on its way to the U.S. House, where it is expected to be approved by a wide margin. President Trump has indicated that he will quickly sign the legislation once it is sent to him.
The demand for new Payroll Protection Program funding came after the $349 billion approved last month for that fund was depleted in just four weeks after the passage of the original $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package.
Reports indicate that the Small Business Administration was deluged with requests for funding through the Payroll Protection Program, which was geared to provide loans and grants to businesses with 500 employees or less.
Besides quickly running out of money, the Payroll Protection Program was also criticized when it was learned that larger companies had succeeded in obtaining some of the funding.
Mnuchin has now vowed that larger companies in the future will not be permitted to access those funds, while President Trump has called on those companies to return the funding they received.
In a statement, Mnuchin said, “To the extent these companies didn’t understand this and they repay loans, that will be OK, and if not there will be potentially other consequences.”
By Garry Boulard
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