WASHINGTON — The Home on Thursday overwhelmingly permitted laws that might calm down the phrases of a federal mortgage program meant to assist smal
WASHINGTON — The Home on Thursday overwhelmingly permitted laws that might calm down the phrases of a federal mortgage program meant to assist small companies climate the pandemic, giving firms extra time and adaptability to make use of the cash.
The measure would alter the Paycheck Safety Program to permit small companies 24 weeks as an alternative of eight weeks to spend the mortgage funds, and lengthen the deadline to use for a mortgage from June 30 to December 31. With out congressional motion, some mortgage recipients will hit the top of their eight-week interval inside days.
However the invoice’s destiny is unsure within the Senate, the place a bipartisan group of senators unveiled their very own set of revisions final week, together with a shorter, 16-week window for spending the mortgage cash.
The invoice’s near-unanimous passage within the Home marked a uncommon little bit of bipartisanship amid a bitterly partisan debate over the subsequent spherical of federal coronavirus reduction, with Democrats urgent for fast motion to offer trillions extra in spending and Republicans wanting to attend and take into account a far leaner bundle.
Home Democrats’ determination to expedite the modifications to the mortgage program mirrored a constructing sense of urgency amongst some moderates to place apart that broader dispute and discover areas of settlement with Republicans the place attainable.
Home Democrats this month pushed by way of a $three trillion pandemic reduction bundle over Republican opposition, however that invoice is doomed within the Senate and faces a veto menace from President Trump. The small enterprise measure, nevertheless, loved robust sufficient bipartisan help that it was thought-about on Thursday underneath sooner procedures reserved for noncontroversial payments, passing 417-1. Consultant Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, was the lone “no” vote.
“There’s been loads of negotiations to seek out one thing that may make it by way of the Senate and hopefully be signed into regulation by the White Home,” stated Consultant Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, who wrote the laws together with Consultant Chip Roy, Republican of Texas.
Mr. Phillips, certainly one of a number of average Democrats who had been reluctant to help the $three trillion invoice given its dim prospects of changing into regulation, agreed to vote for it after extracting a promise from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to permit a vote on the narrower — and much more bipartisan — laws to switch the Paycheck Safety Program.
“We deliberately wished a thin invoice that addressed a really particular subject,” he added. “We listened, and we modified it and got here to a pleasant bipartisan conclusion.”
The Home rejected a separate invoice put ahead by Mr. Phillips that might toughen transparency necessities for this system, requiring that the administration launch particulars concerning the recipients and the lenders, after Republicans opposed it.
Since its inception, the Paycheck Safety Program has been affected by issues and controversy, nevertheless it has proved exceedingly widespread with companies, who’ve flooded the federal government with requests for the help, and has drawn bipartisan help. The initiative was created by the $2.2 trillion stimulus bundle enacted in March, and Congress moved final month to inject an extra $320 billion into this system because it ran out of cash amid a glut of functions.
However the Home laws would additionally eradicate quite a lot of restrictions, together with limitations on how the mortgage cash could possibly be spent, with a purpose to make this system extra accessible to local restaurants, hotels, and hospitality businesses. The legislation would lower the percentage of money required to be spent on payroll in order to have the loan forgiven from 75 to 60 percent, allowing loan recipients to spend more funds on utilities, rent and other business expenses.
In the Senate, the four architects of the original program — Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Susan Collins of Maine, both Republicans, and Democratic Senators Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire — have introduced their own modifications.
In addition to 16-week time frame for repaying the loans, it would allow recipients to use the funds — which were intended to primarily cover payroll expenses — to purchase personal protective equipment for their employees, as well as renovations to accommodate additional safety measures, such as installing a drive-through window, adding physical barriers or upgrading ventilation systems. Those changes were not included in the House legislation.
Mr. Rubio said in a statement that he had concerns with elements of the House legislation, arguing that “inadvertent technical errors” in it could discourage businesses from hiring back all of their workers.
Mr. Roy said the issues should not stand in the way of quick enactment of the changes.
“Let’s actually get this done,” Mr. Roy said in an interview. “There’s obviously a few concerns that people raise here and there — I find them to be much more theoretical than practical.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, supports the House legislation and plans to push for its consideration when the Senate returns Monday, a spokesman said.
Even if the two chambers were able to resolve their substantive differences, the bill faces an uncertain path in light of a Republican lawsuit filed this week that argued that any legislation passed with proxy votes is constitutionally invalid. The House voted on the small-business bill using new procedures pushed through by Democrats this month that allow any lawmaker to designate a member to act as his or her proxy on the House floor to record their vote during a pandemic-related emergency.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has signaled that his chamber might not take up any legislation passed out of the House under its new system.
But Mr. Roy, who joined the lawsuit challenging the legality of the new voting rules, said he doubted there would be any questions about his measure, since it passed by such a wide margin.
“It certainly casts a cloud over any legislation that depended on the proxy votes to pass,” Mr. Roy said. “I believe that if the bill has passed with a legitimate number of in-person votes, and you had an in-person quorum, it’s a legitimate measure.”
Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.