MASON CITY — The US Senate on Tuesday approved a $483 billion coronavirus aid package after Congress and the White House reached a deal. More than $320 billion of that funding would go to boost a small-business payroll loan program that ran out of money last week.
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst spoke with members of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce earlier on Tuesday via a video conference call. She says numerous businesses were not able to take advantage of the initial funding stream of $349 billion in what was billed as the Paycheck Protection Program. “That speaks to the popularity of the program and the desperate need for small businesses to be supported, and because it is a forgivable loan, as long as 75% of those expenses are going towards payroll, it is just a great opportunity to keep employees on payroll, keep them with their employer, receiving those benefits. That is very, very important.”
Ernst says she’s hoping applications for the new funding can be approved as soon as possible. “We are asking, until we can get the funding into the PPP, we are asking the SBA and those lenders continue to process those loan applications so that when we do have the funds available, they can be pushed out of the door as quickly as possible.”
The measure also would provide hospitals with $75 billion more and $25 billion to implement a nationwide virus testing program to facilitate reopening the economy.
The legislation now heads over to the House, where it’s scheduled to be taken up on Thursday.