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With about $130 billion left in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Congress has voted to extend the application deadline to Aug. 8, allowing more businesses to obtain forgivable low-interest loans to help them through the pandemic shutdown. The application process ended June 30.

“When Congress passed the CARES Act in March, we thought that small businesses would be operational by the end of June, but it is now clear that our nation’s small businesses will still need support in the weeks and months to come,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), who sponsored the measure.

The U.S. Senate passed the extension on Tuesday, and the House of Representatives approved it by voice vote yesterday to send the bill to President Donald Trump.

The Hill writer J. Edward Moreno reported that the vote does not necessarily mean lawmakers have forgotten about the criticisms of the program.

“Democrats have been skeptical about how the program was being applied, particularly after it was reported that larger brands such as Shake Shack and Potbelly were eligible,” Moreno wrote. “Even before the approaching deadline, lawmakers have requested data on the demographics of people obtaining the loans.”

Additionally, many businesses and organizations, including NJBIA, criticized the program as being too restrictive to be workable for many small businesses. Congress made several changes in response to such criticisms, but new applications have not been coming in at a high rate.

In New Jersey, only an estimated 14% of small businesses received loans, which is on par with states that received similar amounts of PPP funding, according to Focus NJ’s analysis of Small Business Administration data.

The report, “Making Sense of the Federal Paycheck Protection Program,” finds New Jersey ranked ninth in the nation for loans issued (124,489) and eighth overall in funding received ($17.6 billion).