Senate voted Tuesday evening to extend a federal loan program by five additional weeks, a surprise move that would allow small businesses weathering the pandemic to continue receiving aid.
Less than four hours before the Paycheck Protection Program was scheduled to end with more than $130 billion in loan money unspent, the Senate approved extending the application period until Aug. 8. The legislation now heads to the House, which had finished voting before the bill cleared the Senate, and will require President Trump’s signature for the program to continue. Members of both chambers are expected to leave Washington for the Fourth of July and are not set to fully return for two weeks. “The resources are there,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland and one of the architects of the program, which offers low-interest loans to help small businesses maintain their payrolls. “The need is there. We just need to change the date.” “I came here thinking that we would not be able to get agreement,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, who joined Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and other senators involved in the program’s creation on the Senate floor on Tuesday evening.