U.S. Chamber Letter on the CARES Act

Friday, March 20, 2020 - 3:00pm

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:

         The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports swift Congressional action on a third phase of legislation to address the coronavirus pandemic and thanks Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for crafting the CARES Act as the means to focus this effort.  We support many of the provisions in this bill and encourage the Congress to add additional provisions to provide expedited liquidity to help a broader range of businesses support their employees as they cope with the economic effects of the pandemic. 

         The Chamber believes no family should go bankrupt, and no business should go bankrupt just because of the temporary disruption in income caused during the pandemic. 

         The bill includes several elements that are essential to helping all Americans deal with this pandemic, such as facilitating the health care industry’s response and providing critical liquidity through the tax code for businesses.

         We support provisions based on Sen. Marco Rubio’s proposal for small businesses of up to 500 employees to provide loans that will be converted to grants to the extent that employers use the funds to keep their employees on the payroll. In addition, we support the launch of a credit facility supporting $150 billion in loans and $50 billion in loans to the airline industry.

         We urge you to build upon these provisions to protect the 68 million Americans who work for an employer with more than 500 employees.  Absent action by Congress, many employees of mid-size and larger firms will become unemployed.

Specifically, we hope you will consider building on the Senate's small business proposal for America's larger employers, but with much less generous terms, via a "bridge loan." 

         This program could 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 should be eligible.
  • Suggested maximum loan amount: 3 months of payroll expenses (including pro-rata healthcare expenses).
  • Suggested repayment: Loans would be repayable over 5 years.
  • Suggested 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 should have 10% of their loan forgiven.
  • Backing: These loans could be issued by financial institutions through a credit facility

         In addition, there are other improvements that need immediate attention to provide expedited liquidity to help all businesses cope with the economic effects of the pandemic. administered through the Federal Reserve.

         As each of you have indicated, this is an evolving situation and policy responses will similarly have to evolve in the days and weeks ahead. We will continue to be a resource for you as Congress moves onto other legislative phases to protect Americans and the American economy.

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Donohue

 

cc: The Honorable Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury