WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today called on Congress to pass additional pandemic relief during the forthcoming lame-duck session to assist American businesses and workers.
“We have not yet beaten the coronavirus or achieved the economic recovery we all desire. Our leaders have wasted five months already. They can’t waste another three,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley. “We urge our leaders on both sides of the aisle to find common ground, finish the work they started, and pass additional relief measures during the lame-duck session to help the businesses, industries, and workers who continue to suffer.”
The need for additional relief measures is abundantly clear. The nation still has 10 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic intensified in March. And according to Chamber calculations, at the current pace of hiring, it would take until February 2022 to regain the jobs lost to the pandemic. The number of long-term unemployed Americans—those unemployed for 27 weeks or longer—also continues to rise, hitting 2.6 million last week. Unemployment insurance will expire at the end of the year if Congress fails to act.
Furthermore, 163,735 U.S. businesses have closed since the beginning of the pandemic (March 1), and almost 60% or 100,000 of those businesses report being permanently closed.
“We are pleased to see Leader McConnell’s support for a package before the end of the year as well as President-elect Biden’s commitment to support such measures,” Bradley added. “There is recognition from both Republicans and Democrats that waiting until next year to pass this legislation risks increased economic loss. We are confident that our leaders can come to an agreement that will provide immediate relief before the clock runs out on this Congress.”
Since June, the Chamber has recognized the need for additional federal aid to help American employers and workers through this difficult time. Based on detailed input from Chamber members of all sizes across all industries as well as state and local chambers from every state and territory, the Chamber urges Congress to enact targeted and temporary measures in a phase 4 package that address the following key areas:
- Testing and Healthcare;
- Liability Protection Against Unwarranted Lawsuits;
- Support for Small and Midsize Employers;
- Support for Childcare and K-12 Schools;
- Unemployment and Job Training, and
- State and Local Assistance
Addressing these key areas will ensure that employers of all sizes and across all sectors have the support necessary to navigate this evolving and difficult period. For more details, read the Chamber’s letter that was sent to all members of Congress in July.