By: Patrick Condon
U.S. Rep. Angie Craig was lead sponsor of the successful push in Congress to extend a federal subsidy program for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus.
The House approved Craig’s measure by voice vote on Wednesday, the day after it passed the Senate. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the measure, which extends the original June 30 application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program to Aug. 8.
“The need is still there,” Craig said. “A lot of these businesses have just been decimated.”
Congress established the program in March and later made several modifications to add more money and add flexibility to how businesses can use the money.
Of the $660 billion initially approved for the program, about $130 billion is still available. Craig said she expects to see more applications as some businesses are forced to close again in response to spiking infection rates in some parts of the country.
The program offers federal loans that can be forgiven provided that businesses direct at least 60% of the loan to payroll costs.
Craig said she still sees need for additional congressional response to the pandemic, including the continuation of the weekly $600 federal unemployment benefit that is set to expire on July 25.
A Democrat from Eagan, Craig is running for re-election in southeastern Minnesota’s Second Congressional District. Her Republican opponent, Tyler Kistner, criticized Craig for a move by House Democrats in April that slowed the approval of additional business relief funds sought by the Trump White House.
“When I get to Congress, I won’t play political games with desperately needed financial aid for small businesses,” Kistner said.
Craig’s bill, now on its way to Trump, is the second piece of legislation she will have passed into law since joining Congress last year.