There’s bipartisan support for legislation that would extend the program to May 31 and provide an additional 30-day period for the Small Business Administration to process applications that are still pending. A House bill could be voted on as soon as Tuesday evening, but the Senate will still need to pass a companion piece of legislation.
Congress has made changes intended to help make sure the hardest-hit businesses get access to the money rather than the chain stores and restaurants that quickly obtained big loans when the program first opened last year.
When lawmakers reopened access to the program in December, billions of dollars were carved out for community development financial institutions, which typically lend to minority-owned businesses in underserved communities, and for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
But in some ways, the changes for the second round of loans have also made eligibility more restrictive. Businesses must demonstrate at least a 25% drop in gross receipts in the first, second or third quarters of this year compared to the same quarter in 2019. Those who employ more than 300 workers are excluded.
There are still issues with error messages and holds and it is difficult to get a returned call or email, according to Hilda Kennedy, who spoke at a House hearing last week on behalf of the National Association of Development Companies, a trade group representing small business lenders.
Who’s been helped
The loans are forgiven if the business spends at least 60% of the money on payroll expenses — though business owners have to apply for the cancellation. Nearly 3 million still have yet to submit a forgiveness application.