200312 coronaviruslegislation congress
March 12, 2020
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce appreciates the drive for expeditious action designed to address the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, especially its impact on families, workers, and others affected by this virus. Now is the time to focus on the immediate threat at hand.
The Chamber is already taking a leadership role with our member companies, and recently announced the creation of four task forces to help their employees and others deal with the effects of the virus. They will be focusing on employee support, business operations, supply chain and trade disruption and the impact on small and medium enterprises. Those task forces will have recommendations as soon as next week.
At the same time, however, we believe this crisis should not be used as an opportunity to try to pass legislation that is poorly tailored to the situation and will not be signed into law. In particular, we recognize the need to address the larger issues related to paid sick leave. This emergency bill should not create a federal, one-size-fits-all, permanent leave mandate on employers. Those are longer term issues that should be addressed in separate legislation, and we intend to be helpful in seeking a solution to that issue.
There are several other provisions in the bill that can be improved, as well, such as in the area of providing liability protection for respirator manufacturers.
As we communicated to the House Committee on Small Business this week, the Chamber was supportive of Congress’s action to authorize $7 billion in low-interest loans administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The Chamber supports additional measures to help small businesses weather the pandemic. The existing flexibility of working at a small business will bolster Main Street’s ability to thrive during the pandemic and the Chamber urges lawmakers to steer clear of prescriptive measures that would hamper that workplace flexibility on Main Street.
We strongly encourage Democratic and Republican Leaders to negotiate a bill that can pass the Senate and be signed into law. We will continue to have several recommendations in the coming days and weeks. We look forward to working with Members on both sides of the aisle in both the House and Senate to pass legislation to address the immediate needs of workers and their families, and intend to work with Congress on future legislative efforts.
The American people are looking to the Congress and the Administration for leadership and bipartisanship in passing legislation to address their immediate needs and concerns. We at the Chamber are prepared to assist in any way we can.
Thank you for your consideration.
Neil L. Bradley