CAPITOL-BEAT: Chamber of commerce execs call for new COVID-19 economic stimulus

Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - 11:45am

Congress should not adjourn for the holidays without passing a new economic stimulus package to help businesses and their employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic, top state and national business leaders said Monday night.

Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, took phone calls during an hour-long tele-town hall from small business owners in Georgia worried they could be forced to close permanently unless the federal government steps up soon.

Congressional negotiators currently are working on a smaller COVID-19 relief package than the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Congress passed last March.

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In response to a call from a business owner who has had a hard time keeping employees on the job, Sullivan said members of Congress discovered with the CARES Act that offering $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits serves as a disincentive for employees to return to work during a pandemic.

“Because we have the benefit of that hindsight, Congress is looking at a much more targeted unemployment measure that would be less than $600,” he said.

With so many businesses struggling and so many of their employees having a hard time paying their bills, Clark said any new stimulus package Congress adopts should offer the PPP loan program and additional unemployment benefits at least through the first quarter of 2021.

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