March 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to extend a program giving COVID-19 relief to small businesses less than a week before it was set to expire.
The chamber voted 92-7 in favor of pushing back the deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31. It was due to end Wednesday.
The PPP was created in 2020 as part of an initial wave of stimulus relief after the start of the pandemic. It provides loans that don't have to be paid back as long as small businesses use at least 60% of the money on payroll expenses such as wages, salaries and group health insurance.
The goal of the program was the keep companies in businesses and employees on the payroll even if they had to shutter for state lockdown orders.
The PPP Extension Act of 2021 also gives the Small Business Administration an additional 30 days to process loans, through the end of June.
The SBA approved some 7.6 million PPP loans worth about $687 billion last year. An additional 3.1 million loans worth $196 billion have been processed this year.
The House passed the extension last week, and it now goes to President Joe Biden to sign.