Congress created the forgivable loan program last March to help hard-hit small business owners who had to close their doors because of state and local pandemic lockdown measures. The first round of loans was slow to reach the smallest businesses and those without an existing relationship with a lender may have missed out.
The first program closed in August, but lawmakers added funding in December and reopened the program so that owners could apply for a second loan. Congress targeted the new loans to those with fewer than 300 employees that have seen drops of at least 25% of their revenue during the first, second or third quarters of 2020. Lawmakers also carved out $12 billion for minority-owned businesses.
Since the program reopened, about $134 billion has been lent to 1.8 million small business owners. About half of the funds allocated in December remain and will be available through March 31.
More money on the table
The Democratic-backed relief bill making its way through Congress would add $7 billion to the program and would make more non-profit organizations eligible.
Another $175 million would be used for outreach and promotion, creating a Community Navigator Program to help target eligible businesses.
The bill would also provide $15 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program, which provides long-term, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration. Severely impacted small businesses with fewer than 10 workers will be given priority for some of the money.
It also provides $25 billion for a new grant program specifically for bars and restaurants. Eligible businesses may receive up to $10 million and can use the money for a variety of expenses, including payroll, mortgage and rent, utilities and food and beverages.
CNN's Arlette Saenz, Nikki Carvajal and Devan Cole contributed to this report.