Senate votes to extend small business relief program

The vote came just hours before the deadline for businesses to apply for the funds expired

Pedestrians walk past the exterior of Mart 125. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Democrats pushed a temporary extension of the Paycheck Protection Program through the Senate with a unanimous vote.

The vote came just hours before the deadline for businesses to apply for the program was set to expire. It will be extended through August 8, if it passes the House and is signed off by President Donald Trump.

READ MORE: HHS awards Morehouse School of Med $40M for COVID-19 relief initiative

$130 billion in funds is still available of the $660 billion subsidies originally created to support small businesses. To date, more than 4 million businesses have accessed the funds. As coronavirus continues to ravage the nation, many more businesses are again in need of financial support.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers that a full economic recovery is unlikely until people feel safer going out.

The program has not been without controversy. Large chain restaurants like Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris, and Potbelly all gained millions of dollars in PPP funds. The backlash prompted many of these companies to return the funds.

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Kings Barber Shop Unisesx in Harlem (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Further, many Black-owned small businesses have been shut out of the funds. According to an April report by the Center for Responsible Lending, “upwards of 90% of businesses owned by people of color have been, or will likely be, shut out of the Paycheck Protection Program.”

There have also been several cases of fraud. Love & Hip Hop Atlanta star, Arkansas Mo, has been charged with federal bank fraud charges after investigators discovered he used funds from a $2 million Paycheck Protection Program loan to buy luxury items for himself.

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However, there have also been some outstanding successes. Iconic DC restaurant, Ben’s Chili Bowl was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan following a public outcry regarding their extended wait time.

The bill is expected to pass the House, however, reports are saying that the Democrats want more data from the Small Business Administration about the program and how the funds have been administered.

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