PPP restart expected by New Year's, Cardin says


The Trump administration should be ready to begin issuing a new wave of payroll support loans to small businesses by the beginning of the year, a key lawmaker said Tuesday, suggesting Capitol Hill will press for an aggressive rollout after passing a massive relief bill this week.

In a call with reporters, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee, said he believed the window for so-called Paycheck Protection Program loans should reopen within a matter of days “because that process is understood.”

The program, which offers loans that can be forgiven if businesses maintain their payroll, issued $525 billion in aid before lending closed in August. In the new economic rescue package, Congress is giving it another $284 billion to restart.

“We do expect that by early next year, I’m talking about certainly by New Year’s, we should be able to have the window open for PPP loans,” Cardin said.

The timeline offered by the senior lawmaker indicated that the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department face pressure to move quickly during the upcoming holiday week to revive the PPP, which was a major piece of the Covid-19 relief bill Congress passed this week.

It would also mean a scramble for lenders, which are responsible for issuing the loans on behalf of the government. Industry representatives had expected to get more time to spin up the program.

In the economic rescue legislation, lawmakers gave the SBA 10 days to draft rules to implement the small business aid mandated by the bill.

Cardin said that the SBA, Treasury and the Small Business Committee planned to have a call this week or early next week to talk about the timing of the new PPP. The revamped program will offer businesses a chance to apply for second loans if they received funds earlier this year.

Cardin said it may take longer for the SBA to launch a new program in the bill that will offer $15 billion in grants to live arts and entertainment venues. The legislation also includes $20 billion in business grants through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

As for how long the PPP funds could last — the initial tranche of PPP funding was exhausted within two weeks when it first launched in April — Cardin said lawmakers lacked enough granular information from the SBA for him to make a prediction but that “our staffs believe it will be enough to deal with this round.”

President Donald Trump has yet to sign the pandemic relief bill into law.

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