Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Federal regulators still haven't provided the required guidance on Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness, a scant 18 days past deadline, but it's become less important for the vast majority of small business recipients.

Driving the news: The key buzzword this week was "safe harbor."

  • The Small Business Administration said it would provide safe harbor to all PPP borrowers of less than $2 million, in terms of deeming their certifications to have been made in good faith.
  • In other words, no more need to sweat over whether or not their applications met the "necessity" criteria.

It also extended the "safe harbor" for no-questions-asked loan returns to May 18. This is basically for borrowers of above $2 million, or smaller borrowers who have concerns about their applications other than the aforementioned "necessity" criteria.

  • An SBA spokesperson tells Axios that companies that returned PPP loans are allowed to reapply, so long as they no longer have an active E-Tran loan number.

But back to that lack of forgiveness guidance: It's still a real problem. Not just for larger borrowers, but even for smaller ones that have larger operational expenses than employee expenses.

  • A recent Inspector General report noted that "tens of thousands of borrowers" won't meet the SBA requirement that 75% of PPP loans be used on payroll.
  • Some suggest that this could be why so many small businesses, upwards of 25%, never even bothered applying for PPP.
  • There's speculation that the 75% floor could be lowered in forgiveness guidance, given that it doesn't appear in the actual CARES Act. But at this point it's hard to really know. As one banker said to me: "If you don't like the PPP rules today, don't worry about it because they'll change again tomorrow."

The bottom line: Flexibility for PPP borrowers has increased, particularly as social media attention and political criticism has waned.

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Household debt and credit delinquencies dropped during Q2

Reproduced from New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans cut back on credit cards and increased savings during the worst three-month economic period in U.S. history, as household debt fell for the first time in six years, data from the New York Fed showed.

By the numbers: Total debt declined 0.2% to $14.27 trillion in the second quarter, led by a $76 billion drop in outstanding credit-card balances.

GAO finds Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible for top DHS roles

Photo: CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his acting deputy Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to be serving in their positions, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) decided in a report released Friday.

Why it matters: While the finding has no immediate power, it could be important evidence in litigation over policies enacted under Wolf and Cuccinelli's leadership, said America's Voice's Ur Jaddou, who served as chief counsel to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under President Obama.

The many divisions over Trump's methane rollback

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

EPA's decision to cut regulation of methane is laying bare an oil-and-gas industry divide and setting the stage for political battles this fall and beyond.

Why it matters: Methane is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas and the industry is a key emissions source.