Live Updates: What Congress is Doing & How it Affects Small Businesses

Date: March 13, 2020

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, Congress is moving quickly. NFIB has been in communication with both the administration and Congress about ways to address the impacts to businesses, employees, and consumers, but without adding detrimental burdens small businesses cannot sustain. Check back regularly for updates on the latest and what it means for small businesses.

Latest Updates on Coronavirus:

04/07/2020 5:15pm

NFIB Encouraged by Request for Additional Paycheck Protection Program Funding

NFIB, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, issued the following statement from NFIB President Brad Close in response to requests for additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program:

“Every dollar invested in saving small businesses is a dollar invested in the backbone of the American economy, and we are encouraged by the Administration’s request for additional funds in the PPPL program. Small businesses are struggling like never before, with half telling us they won’t last more than two months in the current environment.

“It is crucial these resources are not exhausted and that small businesses can have confidence the funds will be available, especially for the smallest and most vulnerable. We urge Congress to approve the additional funding so that small businesses will not have to worry that loan funds will run out before they can get their loan request approved and processed.”

03/31/2020 6:05pm

Guide to New Federal Relief

NFIB has recently released a Guide to New Federal Relief outlining how the new stimulus bill affects small businesses. Read More

03/27/2020 1:54pm

House Passes CARES Act to Bring Assistance to Small Businesses

The United States House of Representatives today passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a bill that will provide cash flow and liquidity to small businesses to help ease the economic strain caused by COVID-19. 

NFIB President Brad Close on the bill’s passage this afternoon: “Small businesses have been working around the clock so that they are able to support their employees and keep their doors open during this time of uncertainty. The CARES Act will give small business owners access to critical financial assistance. NFIB is grateful to all Members of Congress who worked tirelessly to ensure that small business provisions were included in this legislation. We urge President Trump to sign this bill into law quickly and to encourage swift implementation of it so that small businesses can receive the financial assistance they so desperately need.” 

03/25/2020 11:50pm

NFIB Applauds Senate Passage of Bill to Help Small Businesses

The United States Senate tonight passed S. 3548, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a bill that will help ease the economic strain caused by COVID-19 by providing cash flow and liquidity to small businesses. 

NFIB President Brad Close weighed in on the bill’s passage: “Small businesses across the country have been doing everything they can to keep their doors open and help their employees and their families during this unprecedented public crisis. The Senate bill provides access to much-needed funding to small businesses to help them do what’s best for their employees, and keep their doors open. NFIB thanks all the senators who worked to make sure that the concerns of small businesses were included in the bill.”

03/25/2020 09:00am

NFIB’s Senior Director of Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal

NFIB’s Senior Director of Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning with Greta Brawner to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses across the country, including NFIB’s most recent coronavirus survey, legislative updates, and what NFIB is hearing from its members.

03/22/2020 08:00pm

NFIB Urges Senate to Continue to Work on Legislation to Provide Small Businesses Relief

The U.S. Senate today failed to advance S. 3548, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act today. NFIB President Brad Close shared that NFIB was “disappointed the Senate failed to provide crucial and immediate financial assistance that small businesses tell us they so desperately need.”

NFIB’s Close noted that, “Small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges during this public health crisis. State and local governments continue to shut down businesses and quarantine workers, while small business owners are doing everything they can to support their employees.”

NFIB will continue to follow the progress of this legislation. From NFIB’s President Brad Close: “We are grateful to Senators Collins, Rubio, and Crapo for their efforts to provide immediate help to small business owners, which have attracted bipartisan support. We encourage them to continue their hard work and improve the provisions so that our nation’s small businesses can get the support they need during this critical time.

03/19/2020 08:42am

Treasury Department & IRS Extend Deadline for Federal Income Tax Payments

The Treasury Department and IRS announced yesterday they have extended the due date for Federal income tax payments. The deadline has been extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020 and applies for payments due of up to $10 million for corporations and up to $1 million for individuals – regardless of filing status – and other unincorporated entities.

NFIB’s Close went on to say that, “small businesses in every state are facing extremely low foot traffic, reduced revenues, and are struggling to remain afloat. Our members are telling us, in droves, that the additional mandates in this bill could be a devastating blow they cannot afford to shoulder.”

Associated interest, additions to tax, and penalties for late payment will also be suspended until July 15, 2020.

For more information, please visit IRS.gov/coronavirus.

03/18/2020 04:42pm

Legislation to Combat Coronavirus Adds Significant Consequences for America’s Small Businesses and Employees

The U.S. Senate today passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The legislation was intended as a measure to help workers. The bill requires all small businesses to provide employees with 10 days of fully paid sick leave. It further requires all small businesses to provide up to 12 weeks of family leave at two-thirds pay. H.R. 6201 applies to all companies with fewer than 500 employees. Larger businesses are exempted from the paid leave requirements. The leave requirements only apply to coronavirus related conditions. NFIB President Brad Close weighed in on the measure today, saying: “We appreciate Congress’ efforts to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on American workers, small businesses, and our national economy, but imposing costly and unsustainable mandates on small businesses is not the answer.”

NFIB’s Close went on to say that, “small businesses in every state are facing extremely low foot traffic, reduced revenues, and are struggling to remain afloat. Our members are telling us, in droves, that the additional mandates in this bill could be a devastating blow they cannot afford to shoulder.”

While the measure does include paid leave provisions, the provisions are not as wide sweeping as they could have been – thanks to discussions NFIB has had with congressional leaders.

NFIB key voted a provision that would have been devastating for small businesses. Thanks to conversations with elected officials, it was subsequently defeated.

NFIB next looks to continuing conversations surrounding the next phase of coronavirus relief. According to Close, “small business owners need relief now, and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the administration in this next phase to find a workable solution moving forward.”

03/18/2020 01:13pm

105 Business Groups Join NFIB in Calling for Changes to Legislation Currently Being Considered by the U.S. Senate

Improvements will Ensure Workers Receive Paid Leave and Provide Relief to Small Businesses

More than 100 business groups joined NFIB in submitting a request to Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer calling for critical improvements to H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The groups represent hundreds of thousands of businesses employing millions of employees in industries from restaurants to suppliers to contractors across the country.

The coalition’s suggested improvements will “ensure all American workers have access to paid leave in the face of this public health crisis while also providing relief to businesses and important incentives to sustain access to employer-provided health benefits, on which nearly 180 million Americans depend.”

According to the letter:

The leave mandates in H.R. 6201, which requires businesses with 500 and fewer employees to provide 12 weeks of paid leave, presume liquidity and a tolerance for debt that simply does not exist at this time. We fear that these mandates will accelerate small and medium business closures, causing many Americans to lose employer-provided health benefits while straining the administrative and financial resources of state unemployment agencies.

Although H.R. 6201 includes tax credits and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has promised to advance business money, credits will not produce sufficient liquidity in time. We fear the government does not have the infrastructure and businesses do not have the administrative resources to access these advances in the time needed to deter business closures.

A better approach would be a public program administered by the federal government to provide compensation for COVID-19 related leave. One example is the proposed program in H.R. 6198, under which the Social Security Administration (SSA) would provide financial assistance to American workers impacted by COVID-19. SSA is often one of the first agencies on the ground in natural disasters, and it has extensive experience and procedures in place for responding in emergency situations. The legislation includes multiple protections to ensure that Social Security funds are not diverted to the new emergency leave program. Other agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Labor, could also administer a program using unemployment insurance to provide compensation for leave, and we encourage Congress to also consider that agency and unemployment insurance as an option for relief.  The U.S. Senate today passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The legislation was intended as a measure to help workers. The bill requires all small businesses to provide employees with 10 days of fully paid sick leave. It further requires all small businesses to provide up to 12 weeks of family leave at two-thirds pay. H.R. 6201 applies to all companies with fewer than 500 employees. Larger businesses are exempted from the paid leave requirements. The leave requirements only apply to coronavirus related conditions. NFIB President Brad Close weighed in on the measure today, saying: “We appreciate Congress’ efforts to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on American workers, small businesses, and our national economy, but imposing costly and unsustainable mandates on small businesses is not the answer.” NFIB’s Close went on to say that, “small businesses in every state are facing extremely low foot traffic, reduced revenues, and are struggling to remain afloat. Our members are telling us, in droves, that the additional mandates in this bill could be a devastating blow they cannot afford to shoulder.” While the measure does include paid leave provisions, the provisions are not as wide sweeping as they could have been – thanks to discussions NFIB has had with congressional leaders. NFIB key voted a provision that would have been devastating for small businesses. Thanks to conversations with elected officials, it was subsequently defeated. NFIB next looks to continuing conversations surrounding the next phase of coronavirus relief. According to Close, “small business owners need relief now, and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the administration in this next phase to find a workable solution moving forward.”

03/16/2020 08:14am

Congress Coronavirus Bill Includes Costly New Mandates

With the coronavirus crisis picking up speed, Congress is on the verge of enacting significant new mandates on small business.

Late Friday night, the House of Representatives passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” Intended as a measure to help workers, the bill requires all small businesses to provide employees with 10 days of fully paid sick leave. It further requires all small businesses to provide up to 12 weeks of family leave at two-thirds pay.

The bill applies to all companies with fewer than 500 employees. Larger businesses are exempted from the paid leave requirements. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation later this week.

“NFIB opposes the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” said Kevin Kuhlman, NFIB Senior Director of Federal Government Relations. “This legislation would limit flexibility in adjusting to a rapidly changing environment and impose potentially unsustainable mandates on small businesses.”

Read NFIB’s congressional letter of opposition.

The bill’s provisions mark a dramatic expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act, which includes significant paperwork requirements. If enacted, small businesses would have a matter of days to familiarize themselves with the law’s many regulations.

In an attempt to help small business cope with these burdens, the bill provides a 100% tax credit for the cost of its paid sick and family leave mandates. Companies can claim this credit through their payroll tax filings, but the process is yet to be determined.

The bill gives the Secretary of Labor the authority to waive the new leave requirements if they jeopardize a company’s viability. However, only businesses with fewer than 50 employees would be eligible. It is currently unclear how they could apply or the process the Department of Labor would use to evaluate waiver requests.

“While we appreciate Congress’ desire to provide relief from these new regulations, the timing will still create a major cash-flow crisis for job creators” said Kevin Kuhlman. “Small businesses are already struggling with lower revenues, so they need relief now, not when it’s too late.”

NFIB successfully prevented the addition of more burdensome mandates in the House bill. We are in conversations with key Senators about improving the current legislative text.

Kevin Kuhlman continued: “The House bill is unworkable. By requiring small businesses to shoulder additional burdens and costs, small businesses who cannot afford to keep up will close. The coronavirus will do damage enough without policymakers piling on.”

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