Senate agrees to extend small business rescue in surprise move

“There are millions of small businesses that are barely open now,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said in an interview. “With the likelihood of either renewed closures or much slower reopenings, we have literally millions of small businesses nationwide at risk.”

The unanimous agreement was so unexpected because lawmakers over the last few weeks had clashed over separate legislation dealing with the program. Senators are already deep into separate negotiations about how to restart and restructure the program for a longer period in a way that targets aid at the hardest hit businesses.

On the Senate floor, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Small Business Committee, said senators picked Aug. 8 because that’s the end of the Senate’s next work period, and lawmakers hope they can pass the next economic relief package by then.

“The resources are there,” he said. “The need is there. We just need to change the date.”