President Trump signed legislation Saturday extending the deadline for small businesses to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program, enacted in the weeks following the economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The original deadline to apply for the PPP was this past Tuesday night. But $130 billion still remained in the fund, out of $660 billion allocated. Both houses of Congress approved the extension unanimously earlier this week. With Trump's signature Saturday, businesses will now have until Aug. 8 to apply for the assistance.
The PPP lets businesses get direct government subsidies for payroll, rent and other costs. The subsidies come as federal loans, but those loans can be forgiven if businesses use at least 60% of the funds for payroll.
The program has so far doled out about $520 billion in loans to almost 5 million small businesses across the country. The loans were meant to let businesses cover about two and a half months of typical costs.
The program's sponsors say they want to repurpose the program to better serve the challenges businesses are facing now, several months into the pandemic. "As the scope of the financial damage done to small businesses by the pandemic and resulting lockdowns has grown, it has become clear that longer-term support is necessary," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in a statement.
Rubio said he wants to see additional support for "our smallest businesses, especially in our underserved communities." The program faced criticism after loans went to multimillion-dollar businesses such as restaurant chain Potbelly, the coal company Hallador Energy and video storage firm Quantum, all of which received $10 million, the most the PPP will give to any one business.