The leaders of the House Small Business Committee have reached a bipartisan agreement to extend the Paycheck Protection Program for two months amid growing concern that its March 31 expiration would deprive many employers of aid.

The deal struck by House Small Business Chair Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), the committee's top Republican, would delay the PPP's loan application deadline to May 31. It would also give the Small Business Administration authority to continue processing pending applications for 30 days after that date, aides for the two lawmakers told POLITICO.

The PPP, the source of more than $687 billion in pandemic relief, offers government-backed small business loans that can be forgiven if employers agree to maintain payroll.

The new agreement means that the House could vote on extending the PPP next week before members leave Washington until mid-April. The biggest hurdle in enacting the bill would be the Senate, where it would likely need unanimous agreement to expedite passage and avoid a lengthy floor debate.

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