By Lou Marzeles
Editor 

Reps discuss new extension bill

 

April 15, 2020



U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Derek Kilmer, both of Washington, will introduce the Paycheck Protection Program Extension bill, designed to extend relief dollars for small businesses. Friday the two legislators talked by phone about the bill and its provisions.

“The public health part of this crisis suggests the eight weeks of payroll [relief] may not be long enough to sustain most small businesses until normal operations can resume,” Herrera Beutler said. “So in order to address those concerns, we will be introducing the Paycheck Protection Program [PPP] Extension Act. Our goal is to expand the existing paycheck protection program to ensure that every qualified small business, every nonprofit is able to access the critical assistance that they need to hang onto their workers and to cover basic operating costs for the duration of this crisis. The bill really does a few things. One, it ensures that there’s support for small business through the duration of the pandemic. Right now, under the law that was under the CARES act that was passed, the end date is June the 30th. But we may still be in the midst of a national emergency come that time.”


Kilmer said there needs to be a proactive anticipation now for contingencies to come. “The bill basically puts in a trigger as whenever the national emergency has ended plus 30 days. Our proposal creates an extension mechanism that really puts little to no burden on the small business owner. It authorizes the SBA to automatically renew and extend any existing PPP loan to ensure that borrowers have the resources that they need to maintain their payroll through the duration of this. As Jamie mentioned, we may see longer than eight weeks. Right now the program provides in essence eight, eight weeks of payroll protection. There were some provisions focused on just protecting the interest of taxpayers by having some common-sense limitations on those loan extensions. And finally, we want to make sure that there are adequate funds in the program so it adds additional funding into the program.”

Herrera Beutler added the $250 billion included in the PPP’s first wave of funding is likely to go very quickly. “We’re thinking a few steps ahead,” she said. “We want to be ready to extend the program now. If there’s one critical component to small business survival, it’s certainty. By making sure that there are robust funds for PPP to service small businesses for the next several weeks if necessary, we’ll be sending them that signal.”


The Sentinel asked about issues just filling out the application for funds under the program. “There seems to be a lot of confusion; we’re hearing from our readers that the directions are not very clear. People are calling their banks to ask questions about how to fill out the applications, and the banks are having to call to get information themselves.”

“I’m hearing the same thing,” Herrera Beutler said. “We spent a lot of time trying to get certainty out of the SBA. They literally are cranking out as much guidance on certainty as they possibly can. By the end of this week, we’re certainly going to be in a much better place as far as getting those answers.”

Part of the clarity the two legislators seek is a way to automatically extend SBA loans for another round of funding, so businesses don’t have to reprove their credit and repeat the entire application process.

 

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