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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is committed to helping American businesses respond to the coronavirus so they can support their employees, customers, and communities.
Our members and the state and local chambers, who are on the front lines of this pandemic, need us now more than ever to help them through this temporary but significant disruption. We will continue working every day to help our country’s people, businesses, and economy weather this storm and emerge stronger—just as we have at other challenging times in our nation’s history.
Working with Congress
The U.S. Chamber is working with both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate to promote policies that will help businesses stay open and pay their employees, reduce the potential of future layoffs, and ensure more hardworking Americans have access to their paychecks.
The Chamber applauded Senate passage of the CARES Act, and urges the House to act to immediately pass the legislation to help businesses stay open and pay their employees, reduce the potential of future layoffs, and ensure more hardworking Americans have access to their paychecks.
“The CARES Act could make the difference between keeping a business up and running or being forced to reduce salaries, layoff employees, or shutter businesses entirely,” Donohue said.
The Chamber is keeping the pressure on to ensure that American businesses are able to stay open and keep their workers on the payroll. Importantly, the bill includes three bold provisions that the Chamber has been strongly advocating including:
• $350 billion in loans for small businesses
• Delayed payroll tax payments to boost liquidity
• $500 billion in federally backed loans and loan guarantees for midsize and large businesses.
March 20, U.S. Chamber Letter on the CARES Act
VIDEO: Clip of Tom Speaking on CNBC on the CARES Act: March 25, 2020
The U.S. Chamber led a coalition letter on emergency assistance for nonprofits that are left out of the relief law and bills and will be hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Nonprofit organizations, including chambers of commerce and trade associations, are important resources for their communities. They provide workforce development, education, civic events, and community support.
Many of these organizations have begun to suffer major financial losses in order to comply with CDC guidelines regarding gatherings and events. Ultimately, many will have to close their doors, leaving their communities without their support, and their employees without jobs.
US Chamber joined with four additional trade associations in a letter to congressional leadership on credit reporting procedures being applied to credit reports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As you consider options to protect consumers from harm, please be aware that blanket suppression of all adverse information in credit reports could disrupt consumer access to credit in the future. Further, credit agencies have stated that not reporting information will actually have a negative impact on consumers’ scores. Additionally, lenders can use the appropriate natural disaster or “paid as agreed to” codes now. Changing the credit reporting system across the entire country for the nation’s millions of lenders (many of whom are working remotely) will take months.
“While suppression is well intended, it could undermine safety and soundness. Encouraging lenders to continue allowing complete credit reporting information to reflect loans where payments are deferred or in forbearance due to an ongoing natural disaster is a better solution. This would quickly and efficiently ensure that coronavirus-related incidents do not negatively affect a consumer’s credit score.”
The U.S. Chamber and other trade associations issued a statement on the importance of keeping U.S. financial markets open.
“The U.S. financial markets are critical infrastructure to our nation, and they continue to function as designed despite the volatility caused by the coronavirus. Keeping all U.S. financial markets open is essential to the well-being of the general economy and vital to maintaining and bolstering investor confidence, particularly once the economy recovers from effects of this pandemic.”
The U.S. Chamber called on Congress to build on the Senate’s small business proposal for America’s larger employers, but with much less generous terms, via a “bridge loan.”
The "bridge loan" program should consist of:
• Federally guaranteed loans: Companies with more than 500 employees that have seen a revenue loss of 10% or more as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak based on the creditworthiness of the company in January 2020 would be eligible.
• Maximum loan amount: Three months of payroll expenses (including pro-rata healthcare expenses).
• Repayment: Loans would be repayable over five years.
• Employee retention incentive for severely impacted employers: Employers with more than 25% loss in revenue that maintain at least 90% of the employees at existing pay levels through December 2020 would have 10% of their loan forgiven. However, there are other improvements that need immediate attention to provide expedited liquidity to help all businesses cope with the economic effects of the pandemic.
• Backing: These loans would be issued by financial institutions through a credit facility administered through the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The U.S. Chamber backed the call for a report on the security of the U.S. medical product supply chain.
“We have insufficient stockpiles of medical countermeasures and other critical products, but we must avoid domestic production mandates that could inadvertently reduce supplies of critical products in the short term. While the administration is working closely with industry to address immediate needs, we need a firmer analysis before proceeding with the reported domestic production executive order that could be counterproductive. Further, such moves could deprive vibrant U.S. companies of access to international markets and inputs in a way that could undermine economic recovery.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce proposed three ideas to help support American businesses and workers, and to mitigate job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, the Chamber called for legislation that would:
Cancel payment of all payroll taxes typically paid by employers for March, April, and May.
Expand and streamlining loan programs for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees experiencing revenue loss as a result of the Coronavirus.
Enable the creation of credit facilities to provide loans and loan guarantees to employers with more than 500 employees experiencing significant revenue loss as a result of the Coronavirus.
"We have a simple principle at the Chamber,” U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley said in an interview on CNBC on Monday. “No individual and no business should go bankrupt simply because of a disruption in revenue during this crisis.”
The U.S. Chamber recommended these policy actions in addition to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that the U.S. House passed on March 13. On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved the House legislation, which President Trump has now signed into law. The U.S. Chamber’s policy proposals would build on this legislation to provide relief for workers and businesses facing economic hardship because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes:
• Paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and sick leave for businesses with less than 500 employees.
• Free testing for COVID-19.
• Expand federal funding of Medicaid.
Working with the Administration
The U.S. Chamber has been working with the Trump Administration as well as a variety of government agencies to receive guidance for our business members on the policies going into effect under the Senate CARES Act and the House Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
U.S. Chamber sent a letter to the Department of Labor asking for guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
“The Chamber supported the FFCRA and believes providing paid leave to employees during this crisis is the right thing to do. We applaud the administration’s efforts to put in place policies to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus and get on top of this problem as soon as possible. The sooner employers can understand clearly what is expected of them, the faster and more efficiently employers will be able to contribute to the overall effort.”
U.S. Chamber sent a letter to the President on essential infrastructure and essential businesses and services.
As our nation continues to labor in halting the spread of the coronavirus, states and local governments are promulgating quarantine orders and mandatory business closures. These are important public health measures that will help limit the spread of the virus. However, it is important that these orders do not inadvertently harm businesses and services that support the essential infrastructure needed to successfully combat this pandemic.
Therefore, we recommend that your administration issue guidance on these orders to clarify “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses and services.” Several counties have promulgated mandatory quarantines that include specific exceptions for “essential infrastructure” and “essential business” that our members find strike the right balance and we recommend these examples as a model for any state or local government issuing similar directives.
The U.S. Chamber continues to call for legislation that would allow the Federal Reserve to establish credit facilities to support employers in securing loans via a Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF).
“We are committed to helping American businesses respond to the coronavirus so they can support their employees, customers, and communities. A key component of that is ensuring liquidity in our financial markets. The U.S. Chamber supports the bold action by the Federal Reserve, with the support of the Treasury Secretary, to directly provide liquidity to commercial paper markets through establishing a Commercial Paper Funding Facility. This will allow businesses to access needed cash and provide reassurance to investors. No family and no business should go bankrupt because of the financial hardships caused by the coronavirus.”
U.S. Chamber strongly supports the appointment of a Coronavirus Czar.
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly supports the appointment of a czar to coordinate a holistic government response to protect Americans from the Coronavirus. At this critical time, we need clear accountability and data-based guidance so the public and American businesses can take the proper precautions to mitigate the impact. We encourage Congress and the administration to provide all necessary support to contain the spread of the virus.
“The American business community plays a vital role in combating outbreaks of viruses like Coronavirus. The Chamber is working closely with U.S. and foreign government officials, large and small businesses, and our entire federation of state, local, and international Chambers to ensure access to the most up-to-date and relevant information so that we are all adequately prepared to protect Americans at home and abroad. The more prepared we are as a business community and society, the better we will manage the impacts of the virus.”
Working with Governors
At the state level, the Chamber is urging state and local governments to issue Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce that aligns with the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA).
U.S. Chamber sent a letter to governors and mayors, urging them to follow DHS guidance on essential workforce to find the right balance essential critical infrastructure workers can continue to support public health and safety.
“We all agree that decisive action is critical to mitigating the short- and long-term impact of the pandemic,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas J. Donohue. “We understand the importance of social distancing and limiting interactions as much as possible as the nation seeks to flatten the curve of the coronavirus. At the same time, we must find the right balance so that essential critical infrastructure workers can continue to support public health and safety, as well as the economic and national security of the U.S.”
U.S. Chamber sent a letter to Governors Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr. (MD) advocating for their support in urging state and local governments to be thoughtful in these orders and align them with DHS’s guidance on essential critical infrastructure workforce.
We all agree that decisive action is critical to mitigating the short- and long-term impact of the pandemic. However, many well-intentioned state and local governments are contemplating or issuing stay at home orders or orders allowing only movement of workers involved in essential businesses. We understand the importance of social distancing and limiting interactions as much as possible as the nation seeks to flatten the curve of the coronavirus.
At the same time, we must find the right balance so that essential critical infrastructure workers—as identified in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) recent Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response—can continue to support public health and safety, as well as the economic and national security of the United States.
Working with International Leaders
The U.S. Chamber has been working with international leaders and governments to ensure our trade relationships remain strong by discouraging policies that could further harm the economy and global supply chains, and by calling for the U.S. and the EU to work together to lead a united global health response to the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. Chamber joins coalition letter expressing concern by a “Buy American” executive order.
While we are encouraged by this partnership and the Administration’s ongoing efforts with our international allies to respond to the pandemic with all available resources, we are concerned by reports of a draft “Buy American” executive order that could be counterproductive to these efforts. Such an order may delay the discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine and other treatments, worsen shortages of critically-needed medicines and medical products, and undermine prospects for economic recovery.
Now more than ever, U.S. industries require access to international supply chains to produce critically-needed medical products. The United States simply does not produce all of the raw materials or intermediate goods that are essential to drug development or production of the medical equipment needed to thwart this pandemic. Preventing federal agencies from sourcing medical equipment and pharmaceutical ingredients from abroad — or that are made with non U.S. inputs — would only exacerbate the supply shortages racking the United States.
U.S. Chamber welcomed the pledge from the governments of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Myanmar, New Zealand and Singapore today affirming their commitment to keeping trade lines open.
“As nations grapple with COVID-19 and its economic fallout, the Chamber welcomes commitments by governments such as these to keep trade lines open and ensure robust and connected supply chains.
“In the current public health crisis, trade connections by air, land, and sea remain vital to efforts to secure medical supplies and other essential goods. Governments must work together to ensure that cross-border trade can continue.”
U.S. Chamber EVP and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant Advocates for Transatlantic Cooperation on Coronavirus
“At this time of crisis, the United States and Europe should be the leading drivers of a global response to the mounting health and economic challenges. As the world’s two largest and most open markets, the U.S. and Europe are uniquely positioned to demonstrate collective leadership at this critical moment by ensuring that goods needed for the pandemic response can flow unimpeded and by keeping essential services running. Working together will strengthen our economic partnership and rebuff mounting pressures to pull up the drawbridges and focus inward.”
The U.S. Chamber joined with 19 association to request that the Basel Committee on Bank Supervision (BCBS) and International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) issue an immediate, public recommendation to global regulators to suspend the compliance dates for Phase 5 and 6, and that global regulators act swiftly to provide corresponding reassurance in their jurisdictions while they work to address necessary rule amendments or other means to effect this decision.
This week’s Path Forward event focused on companies’ various strategies for encouraging employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
A group of five experts hosted live “Ask Me Anything” sessions answering questions about COVID-19.