As negotiations continue in Congress on the next COVID-19 legislative relief package, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and several colleagues asked U.S. House of Representatives leaders to improve the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was signed into law as part of the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“We were disappointed to learn that, contrary to congressional intent, the Department of the Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have added stipulations to this loan forgiveness that reduce the flexibility businesses have to use and get forgiveness for the PPP loan,” according to an April 16 bipartisan letter sent to House leaders by Rep. Fitzpatrick and 11 colleagues.

According to the administration’s guidance, they wrote, not more than 25 percent of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs and compensation levels of employees must be maintained.

“By contrast, the CARES Act did not stipulate the fraction of the forgivable loan that would go to rent vs. payroll and said that businesses could not reduce compensation by more than 25 percent,” according to their letter.

Rep. Fitzpatrick and the lawmakers urged Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to eliminate the requirement in the next pandemic emergency legislation.

“As Congress continues our negotiations to craft another legislative package to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must include language clarifying the loan-forgiveness provisions of the PPP,” wrote Rep. Fitzpatrick and his colleagues.

Additionally, the lawmakers noted that according to current PPP guidance, many small businesses unable to rehire employees by June 30 could see reductions in their federal loan forgiveness percentage.

“These additional stipulations could mean the difference between a business successfully reopening or permanently closing its doors, which flies in the face of Congress’ intention in creating this program through the CARES Act,” they wrote, calling for clarified guidance on these regulations.

“These small businesses require direction on how to navigate this aspect of the PPP loans, without sacrificing their loan forgiveness,” the members wrote.

Among the representatives who joined Rep. Fitzpatrick in signing the letter was U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA).