With small businesses around the country still eagerly awaiting some form of assistance from the federal government, lawmakers on Capitol Hill appear to be making some much-needed progress today.
Late this afternoon, the Senate reached an agreement on the newest coronavirus relief package, which would pump an additional $310 billion into the Paycheck Protection Program. The program—depleted of its original allocation of $349 billion in a matter of weeks—lets the Small Business Administration offer forgivable loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
- $484 billion: Size of the total relief package.
- $310 billion: New amount allocated for PPP.
- $250 billion would be open to all lenders.
- $60 billion would be reserved specifically for smaller lenders.
- $10 billion would be reserved for emergency grants.
- $75 billion would go to help hospitals.
- $25 billion: COVID-19 testing.
The program’s initial rollout was widely criticized by owners of smaller businesses who complained of being shut out of the process, with many unable to find lenders or even receive any communication from the SBA regarding their loan applications. Those tensions were exacerbated after revelations that some recipients of the small-business loans weren’t that small. The list of awardees included large restaurant chains like Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Shake Shack, the latter of which has since promised to give the loan back.