(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today convened a hearing to examine the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Two of the witnesses who provided testimony during the hearing, Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) President and CEO Lisa Mensah and The Y in Central Maryland President and CEO John K. Hoey, urged Congress to pass legislation to extend the March 31 deadline for PPP loans. OFN is the national association of community development financial institutions (CDFIs), which have played a key role in ensuring that small businesses in Black, Latino, Asian, Native, and other underserved communities receive access to PPP.

The hearing comes one day after the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan PPP Extension Act of 2021 on a 415-3 vote. The bill, which was introduced in the Senate by Cardin and Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) last week, would help small employers retain access to PPP by extending the deadline for PPP loans for another two months to May 31, 2021, and then providing an additional 30-day period for the SBA to process applications that are still pending.

On March 15, more than 90 trade associations and chambers of commerce sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging passage of the PPP Extension Act.

“I hope that [the PPP Extension Act] will clear the hotline and we can do it by consent as early as next week,” Cardin said. “… I would urge my colleagues to continue in a bipartisan way to support this extension in a clean manner. We will have opportunities to look at additional changes or modifications to PPP and I can assure you that the way that's going to be done is in a bipartisan manner with Democrats and Republicans working together, as we have throughout the entire development of the programs that help small businesses.”

“OFN urges Congress to quickly pass the PPP Extension Act of 2021 to extend the deadline until May 31, 2021 and provide an additional 30-day period for the SBA to process applications that are still pending,” Mensah said. “Thousands of business owners will not receive access to PPP without an extension. If the SBA PPP program closes on March 31, Jackson, MS-based CDFI HOPE estimates 1300 loans for businesses that have applied for assistance will not be funded – of which 98 percent are businesses with fewer than 20 employees, 95 percent are minority-owned businesses, and nearly 100 businesses are veteran or veteran spouse-owned businesses.”

“I can tell you that colleagues of mine who run large Ys around the country and large non-profits in Baltimore are still trying to understand the program and figure out if they qualify,” said Hoey. “I think a three month extension is not only warranted, but owed to all of us after what we’ve been through this past year.”

Click here to download an MP4 of Cardin’s opening statement. Video of the hearing can be viewed here.