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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

Unemployment claims tick higher

Photo: Bridget Bennett/AFP via Getty Images

New applications for unemployment bumped higher last week, after jobless claims filings steadily dropped in recent weeks, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Why it matters: Economists are hesitant to draw too many conclusions about the broader economy from this week's higher filings alone, but they're watching for worsening effects on the labor market as Congress' stimulus negotiations stall.

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.