June 1, 2020 / 7:29 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. Senate leader hopes for quick passage of House coronavirus small business bill

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following a closed Senate Republican policy lunch meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss the response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday he hoped the Senate would soon pass legislation already passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives easing terms of the coronavirus small-business loan program.

“I hope and anticipate the Senate will soon take up and pass legislation that just passed the House, by an overwhelming vote of 417 to one, to further strengthen the Paycheck Protection Program so it continues working for small businesses that need our help,” McConnell, a Republican, said.

Under the House-passed bill, businesses receiving forgivable loans under this new program would have 24 weeks, instead of the current eight weeks, to utilize the loans intended to help keep businesses operating and retain employees.

The legislation also contains other changes to provide more flexibility to the program as small businesses try to reopen following months of closures or curtailed operations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Restaurants and hotels are among the largest beneficiaries of the Paycheck Protection Program created in late March.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Chang

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