U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood backed legislation to improve a federal loan program for small businesses hit hard by measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act which supporters like Underwood, D-Naperville, argued would improve the program's loan forgiveness process so small businesses can make use of the aid, according to a news release.
"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, but right now, many are struggling to stay afloat," Underwood said in the release. "I’ve heard firsthand from small business owners across northern Illinois who are worried that the Paycheck Protection Program, as currently implemented by the Small Business Administration, isn’t working for them."
The legislation would also allow for loan expenses beyond the initial eight-week period to 24 weeks and extends the rehiring deadline, according to the release. The bill would also increase the limit on the use of forgivable loan proceeds for non-payroll expenses from 25% to 40%.
In addition, the bill would also extend the program from June 30 to Dec. 31, 2020, extend the minimum loan terms from two years to five years, and ensure full access to payroll tax deferment for businesses to take PPP loans.
Underwood has pushed for other forms of aid like millions of dollars to help Illinois test and contact trace for COVID-19, bolster the nation's public health workforce, and prioritize veterans' mental health.