U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has joined with Democrats from Washington and Pennsylvania to introduce legislation aimed at expanding the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.
Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, announced April 14 that she and Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Madeleine Dean, D-Pennsylvania, had introduced H.R. 6506, the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act.
The act would add $900 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and extend the authorization period for the program from June 30 to 30 days after the national emergency declaration on the COVID-19 pandemic was no longer in force, according to a bill summary. It would also allow for automatic renewal or extension of program loans and allows for repayment deferral until the pandemic was over.
Herrera Beutler’s news release stated the bill would ensure that small businesses who qualified for the program would have access to “critical assistance” through the full duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There isn’t a single employer or small business in Southwest Washington that has avoided the impact of COVID-19, and this crisis has hit those operating on thin margins and small reserves especially hard,” Herrera Beutler said.
She had advocated for the original legislation creating the Paycheck Protection Program, she added, explaining the new legislation would make sure the program’s availability wouldn’t stop until the pandemic was over.
Kilmer said in the release that “there is tremendous need in our communities” to see the program be a success.
“Small businesses across our region are making critical decisions right now about whether to shut down or weather the storm of this pandemic,” Kilmer said. “The Paycheck Protection Program is designed to help our main street employers keep folks on payroll and ensure working families have the support they need.”
Dean said she and her staff had spoken with a number of small businesses about economic hits they have taken during COVID-19 response, adding she “gladly” lent her support to expand the program.
“This bipartisan legislation will help all small businesses retain their workforce and cover their basic operating costs, and I thank Rep. Kilmer and Rep. Herrera Beutler for their leadership,” Dean said.
Following its April 14 introduction, the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act was referred to the House Committee on Small Business, according to Congress’ website.
The Paycheck Protection Program created in the initial legislation provides forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll, the release stated.
The week prior to the new bill, Herrera Beutler and Kilmer urged the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Small Business Administration to work on improving the program and increase access to loans for small businesses being impacted by COVID-19 across Washington.
Specific improvements requested were a better-function loan application system, additional guidance for lenders, and enhanced responsiveness to lenders and borrowers.