Exclusive conference call provided Nevada small-business owners with the latest news from Congress
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto paid a visit to NFIB Nevada members via conference call, May 8, and left small-business-owning callers with answers to questions they posed and some reassurance on worries they had about federal efforts to help them deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
“I was born and raised in Nevada,” the state’s senior senator said. “The small businesses in our state are the backbone of our economy.”
For the next 40 minutes, Senator Cortez Masto gave her thoughts on top-of-the-mind issues dealing primarily with the two federal loan programs and the job of complying with them. Highlights of her remarks included:
To one NFIB member’s question about the IRS not allowing some deductions on expenses, the senator replied, “My frustration has been that unfortunately because this has happened so quickly overnight [the CARES Act creating the Paycheck Protection Program loans], there are times when the administration has too narrow a definition that is not within the intent and spirit of the law we passed for our small businesses.
“So, we have had to push back against the administration to say ‘no,’ you need to look at this again. This is not our intent … if there is something in this legislation that we missed that the IRS is interpreting wrong, then we’re going to change it. So that is why we have introduced the Small Business Expense Protection Act, to change that.”
The senator addressed another concern about how to lure workers back when, thanks to the $600 a week Congress added to state benefits, staying on unemployment became more lucrative than going back to their jobs. “We made it very clear that you would only receive that money as long as you were unemployed because of the pandemic. Once you are offered the job back, you are no longer eligible for that money. We had a trigger mechanism so they would stop receiving if their jobs were offered back to them.”
The National Debt
In response to a question about how much more debt the nation could endure, Senator Cortez Masto said that after the economy fully rebounded, it should be “the No. 1 priority for this country. I think the last time I looked it was $22 trillion, $24 trillion … It is something that has to be a priority for us … There are smart ways to do it … I’ve got some ideas about how to address this, but we got to get in this room and start having this conversation—and we haven’t yet.”
Other issues addressed by the senator included:
- Programs under consideration in addition to Paycheck Protection Act loans and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan
- A clearer definition of “forgiveness” in PPP loans
- Flexibility in the 75% rule that most go to employee salary
- Use of the loans by publicly traded companies
- The Defense Production Act for testing
- What it will take to reopen the economy fully and safely.
Kevin Kuhlman, NFIB senior director of government relations and Randi Thompson, NFIB’s Nevada state director, also asked questions of Senator Cortez Masto and then thanked her for her support of small business. The senator highly encouraged NFIB members to send her their ideas for turning the small-business economy around. She also directed them to the coronavirus section of her senate webpage where they can learn about the many resources to small-business owners.
Click the arrow below to listen to the 44-minute conference call with the senator.