Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. Senate finally did its job last night, providing greater flexibility to the millions of small businesses that received loans via the Paycheck Protection Program. It now heads to President Trump, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

Why it matters: This should both help save small businesses and protect payrolls, without costing extra taxpayer dollars.

Two big changes:

  1. Recipients now have 24 weeks to spend funds from the time of origination, in order to be eligible for at least some loan forgiveness. This is up from the original eight weeks.
  2. The percent of funds that must be spent on payroll was lowered from 75% to 60%, in order to be eligible for at least some loan forgiveness. But there also is now a cliff, whereby payroll spend below 60% prevents any loan forgiveness.

Politics: This is essentially the House bill passed last week on a 417-1 vote. Some GOP senators had wanted an extension to 16 weeks instead of to 24, but yielded for the sake of expediency (some of the original 8-week periods are about to expire).

  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) yesterday blocked an initial attempt at unanimous consent, but then got a (still-unreleased) letter clarifying that a related program extension to Dec. 31 only applies to spending instead of to applications.

Devil in the details: If this impacts your business or your portfolio company, talk to counsel. Particularly for tax ramifications, or if your business is entering into an M&A agreement while still in an active loan period.

What's next: There is still at least $100 billion of PPP funds available, and there are some expectations that last night's fix will spark a new surge in applications.

Go deeper

Senate passes PPP extension through August

Mitch McConnell. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Senate passed legislation by unanimous consent Tuesday night extending the application period for the Paycheck Protection Program through August 8, just hours before the federal loan program was set to expire.

Yes, but: The House still needs to pass the Senate version of the relief bill, and President Trump will need to sign off. Prospects for either are uncertain. Approximately $130 billion in PPP funding remains available.

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