As the federal government has provided more than $6 trillion in relief funding to address the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, ABC advocated for and supported critical bipartisan policies enacted by the U.S. Congress. However, ABC also expressed concerns regarding the most recent $1.9 trillion legislation passed under budget reconciliation and signed into law without bipartisan support.
ABC now urges Congress and the administration to focus on critical policies that will ensure our nation’s construction industry remains strong and ready to lead the economic comeback.
Critical to ensuring that the nation’s small construction businesses were able to provide paychecks and benefits to their workers, ABC appreciates Congress’s swift action in passing the CARES Act (H.R. 748) and authorizing the Paycheck Protection Program and follow-on legislation to expand and continue the program through May 31, 2021.
Construction accounted for nearly 12.4% of all PPP loans in 2020 and 12% in 2021. ABC was an early supporter of the PPP and the assistance it provided many construction companies to survive the pandemic. As we maintain our focus on recovery efforts for the construction industry and the economy, ABC will continue to advocate for policies that ensure our nation’s small businesses are able to thrive and provide jobs for millions of America’s workers.
ABC also supported the employee retention tax credit authorized under CARES and the expansion of the ERTC to work in conjunction with the PPP and allow additional businesses to benefit from this job-saving tax credit.
Net operating loss relief enacted in the CARES Act provided a five-year carryback for losses incurred in 2018, 2019 and 2020. It also suspended the loss limitation rules for those years. Absent the loss limitation relief, pass-through businesses with large losses would have been unable to access the NOL relief. With small-business revenue declining by 30% in the past year, this provision was necessary to ensure businesses of all sizes benefitted from the policy. Providing temporary NOL relief has broad support in the business community, and any efforts to repeal this relief should be opposed
$1.9 Trillion Budget Reconciliation Bill:
While the $1.9 trillion budget reconciliation bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden included extensions for small business relief, funding for testing and tracing of COVID-19 infections and distribution of vaccines throughout the country, ABC remains concerned about the far-reaching impact of this bill on issues outside of the scope of the immediate COVID pandemic response that could be having an adverse effect on our economy, including the unintended consequences of increased unemployment payments that may impact the available workforce throughout the country.
The bill also included $86 billion to bail out distressed multi-employer pensions plans over the next 30 years. The provision does not require the plans to pay back the bailout, freeze accruals or to end the practices that led to their current distress, and provides no long-term plan for when taxpayer money runs out 30 years from now, which means the problem could recur.
The package also failed to include limited liability protections for businesses operating during the COVID pandemic. ABC has continued to advocate for liability protections in COVID relief legislation to ensure construction businesses are protected from frivolous, costly lawsuits as a result of the pandemic.
The bill also provided $350 billion to state and local governments to assist in the COVID response, which also allows state and local governments to use Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to invest in necessary improvements to their water and sewer infrastructures.
Most recently, the U.S. Treasury Department issued guidance that “encourages recipients to ensure that water, sewer and broadband projects use strong labor standards, including project labor agreements and community benefits agreements,” which would discriminate against 87% of the construction industry, including many of our small, veteran-, woman- and minority-owned businesses.