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Paycheck Protection Program extension passes in Senate, on its way to President Biden’s desk for approval

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — An extension of a small business loan program is on its way to President Joe Biden’s desk after a bipartisan vote of approval in the Senate.

The Paycheck Protection Program, a federal loan program helping millions of small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic, was set to expire in less than a week. Now, small businesses will have two additional months to get assistance.

But its passage in the Senate on Thursday didn’t come without debate.

Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, wanted to ensure the measure wouldn’t allow people convicted of a felony, specifically for causing a riot, to get a PPP loan.

“You either support violence or you don’t,” Kennedy said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the Biden administration had restricted eligible businesses from applying and he wanted to prevent that from continuing.

“Unless we put in the guardrails, there is little assurance that this is not going to continue,” Rubio said.

Kennedy and Rubio’s efforts ultimately failed – in part because there was no time for the House to approve them before the program expires.

“That would take us beyond [March 31] and the program would end, costing hundreds of thousands of small businesses the opportunity,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said.

Both Democrats and Republicans supported swift passage of the current extension to ensure small businesses get the help they need. The bill now goes to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Kennedy and Rubio ended up voting for the extension in the end. It passed 92-7.

Seven Republican U.S. senators voted against the measure: Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Mike Lee of Utah, Jim Risch of Idaho and Richard Shelby of Alabama. Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska did not vote.

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