President Joe Biden recently announced new policies that expand the criteria of those who can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program.
The new policies are aimed at helping small businesses and minority-owned businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first step is a 14-day window beginning Feb. 24 until March 9, where businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply for the PPP loans. The administration is also making the application process easier.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, minority-owned businesses are more likely to struggle to get necessary loans and fear permanent closure. The new policies are intended to help those struggling businesses stay afloat.
The new policies have contributed to the discussion revolving around whether the PPP can allow race to play a factor in who gets approved for a loan.
Dr. Chase Porter, assistant professor of political science, said these new policies are similar to ones already in existence in Oregon, which have faced some legal challenges.
“The Small Business Association currently has special assistance programs for businesses owned by economically or socially disadvantaged individuals, so it would be interesting to see if this program would face any legal challenges, or if it will be similar enough to currently existing SBA programs to pass constitutional muster,” Porter said.
The criteria will help non-citizens who are in the U.S. legally, small business owners who have committed non-fraud related felonies and business owners who became delinquent on their student loans.
Lillian McConnell, junior political science major, said expanding the criteria to cover those who have committed felonies hurts the liberties of law-abiding citizens.
“There are consequences of committing a crime that you carry for the rest of your life. This exists so people think about the crime before they commit it,” McConnell said. “If you take away some of those consequences, it harms those who are not breaking the law.”
Biden said the intention of these changes is to help those who were unable to get relief before.
“When the Paycheck Protection Program was passed, a lot of these mom-and-pop businesses got muscled out of the way by bigger companies who jumped in front of the line,” Biden said in a press conference Feb. 22.
The program is set to end in late March. So far an extension has not been announced.