WASHINGTON -- Sens. Marco Rubio and Susan Collins have introduced legislation to extend a popular small-business relief program past its Aug. 8 expiration date as talks between Republicans and Democrats on a larger relief package appear deadlocked.
Florida's Rubio and Maine's Collins introduced two proposals that would continue the Paycheck Protection Program at least through the end of the year as businesses contend with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rubio, who leads the Senate Small Business Committee, said in a statement that Congress has already acted unanimously on three occasions to extend the PPP, which he said is "a testament to the program's success at saving tens of millions of jobs and preventing widespread small business bankruptcies."
The senators' first proposal, which would extend the benefits through Dec. 31, would also provide money for personal protective equipment for workers. It would also extend benefits to businesses with 300 or fewer employees who see a 35% decline in revenue.
Their second proposal would create a long-term program that would extend loans to hard-hit businesses. It would also appropriate an additional $10 million for the Minority Business Development Agency.
A person familiar with the discussions said that committee staff from both parties have been discussing the legislation.
Rubio and Collins introduced the measures as part of a pending Senate "vote-a-rama" where lawmakers will attempt to break the legislative stalemate by throwing proposals to a vote and seeing which ideas garner majority support. There is hope the PPP program, which has enjoyed bipartisan support in the past, will garner similar backing on the floor, the person said.
"I hope my Democratic colleagues can once again join Republicans, put politics aside, and act decisively to help our nation's small businesses and the tens of millions of American workers they employ," Rubio said in a statement.
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