March 17, 2020
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly encourages expedited consideration of H.R. 6201, the House-passed Coronavirus response legislation, which is intended to help workers and their families better handle the pandemic for the duration of this public health emergency. It is essential that Congress and the Administration build on this non-partisan collaboration to act on additional legislation to address other aspects of this emergency. We intend to continue contributing recommendations as those bills are developed.
The situation with the Coronavirus is similar to a natural disaster. Our principle is simple: no family and no business should go bankrupt just because of the temporary disruption in income caused during the pandemic.
H.R. 6201 is the next critical step for the Senate. It would provide 10 days of paid sick leave and of family and medical leave benefits for individuals who are directly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic without creating a long-term, permanent leave mandate on employers. The purposes for each type of leave are streamlined to ensure individuals would have options for themselves, as well as their children. The legislation would also address the burden small employers face by providing a way for them to be reimbursed for the costs of paid leave, as well as providing certain exceptions to help ensure the viability of small businesses. In the long term, we remain committed to working to find national solutions to the issues of paid leave that go beyond this public health emergency.
In addition, H.R. 6201 would make it easier for individuals to receive unemployment insurance (UI) benefits if they are not eligible for paid leave, but are still unable to go to work because of the Coronavirus. The legislation builds on the guidance already provided by the Department of Labor by waiving the available and able UI eligibility requirements, as well as the one-week waiting period required before an individual can apply for UI benefits.
Beyond H.R. 6201, Congress and the Administration should move with haste to address other issues facing businesses by: cancelling the remittance of all payroll taxes typically paid by employers for the months of March, April, and May; expanding and streamlining loan programs for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees experiencing revenue loss as a result of the Coronavirus; and enabling 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.
The American business community appreciates the non-partisan collaboration of Members of Congress and Trump administration officials to refine H.R. 6201 over the past several days. We encourage you to build on this effort with further legislation to address this crisis as soon as practicable.
Neil L. Bradley