Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate unanimously passed a bill on Wednesday to loosen some of the rules that small businesses must follow when applying for Paycheck Protection Program loans.

By the numbers: Businesses now have 24 weeks to use loans obtained through the program, instead of eight weeks. Only 60% of a PPP loan now has to be used for payroll, instead of 75% — a requirement that "tens of thousands of borrowers" weren't expected to meet, per a recent inspector general report.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Felix Salmon: There has always been a tension between the PPP as a way of saving jobs or as a way of saving small businesses. This bill moves the needle decidedly in the direction of the latter.

What they're saying: “While this measure does a good job making the PPP work better for businesses that are eligible, other PPP enhancements will be needed to make sure all the key pieces are in place when the recovery begins — in particular, extending eligibility to non-profit and quasi-governmental entities that are vital drivers of local and regional economic development," the U.S. Travel Association said in a statement.

Go deeper: Paycheck Protection Program borrowers get more flexibility

Go deeper

Trump extends coronavirus PPP loan application deadline to August 8

President Trump boards Air Force One on July 3. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump signed off on Saturday to give businesses another five weeks to apply for funds through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Why it matters: Roughly $130 billion in PPP funding is still available. The Small Business Administration's inspector general found in May that some rural, minority and women-owned businesses may not have gotten loans due to a lack of prioritization from the agency.

Mnuchin says leftover PPP funds should go to hardest-hit industries

Mnuchin prepares to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. Photo: Asos Katopodis/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday that the $134 billion in leftover funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) should be repurposed and extended to businesses that have suffered the most during the coronavirus pandemic, including "restaurants and hotels."

Why it matters: Today is the last day small businesses can apply for loans via the PPP, as coronavirus cases spike and some states are pausing or rolling back reopening plans. The prospects for small businesses, many of which have already seen significant revenue drops, are devastating.

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.