As the federal government continues to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 health and economic crisis, ABC has advocated for and supported critical policies enacted by the U.S. Congress. ABC also urges Congress to consider necessary modifications to current programs and additional relief to ensure our nation’s construction industry remains strong and ready to lead the economic comeback once the crisis is over.
Paycheck Protection Program:
ABC appreciates Congress’s swift action in passing the CARES Act (H.R. 748), which provides essential relief for construction small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. In an ABC member survey conducted May 20-June 3, 80% of survey respondents indicated their firm had applied for and received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. As of May 30, 2020, data on the PPP shows the construction industry has received more than 429,000 loans worth more than $63 billion through the PPP, accounting for approximately 12.5% of the loans provided through the program. The additional guidance released on the program and the recently enacted PPP Flexibility Act (Public Law No: 116-142) continue to provide clarity and certainty for small construction businesses that have used this program as a vital lifeline to keep operations going and ensure paychecks for millions of hardworking construction employees throughout this health and economic crisis. ABC was an early supporter of the PPP and will advocate for the additional resources that ABC members need to continue to drive recovery efforts for the construction industry and the economy.
- ABC supports legislation to ensure PPP loans are tax deductible. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), U.S. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), U.S. Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced the Small Business Expense Protection Act (S. 3612), which would clarify that small businesses can deduct expenses paid with a forgiven PPP loan from their taxes.
- ABC supports the expansion of PPP loans for 501(c)(6) organizations, including ABC state and local chapters. The Local Chamber, Tourism, and 501(c)(6) Protection Act (H.R. 6697), introduced by Reps. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Greg Steube (R-Fla.) and Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.), would expand the program to encompass organizations with 300 or fewer employees that operate under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. The bill currently has 109 bipartisan cosponsors.
Employee Retention Tax Credit:
- ABC also urges the expansion of the employee retention tax credit. U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), introduced the Jumpstarting Our Businesses’ Success Credit (JOBS Credit) Act (H.R. 6776), which would make a number of targeted improvements to the ERTC to better fulfill its goal of keeping workers connected to their jobs during this crisis.
- ABC urges Congress to enact temporary and targeted liability relief legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic that would safeguard businesses, non-profit organizations and educational institutions, as well as healthcare providers and facilities, from unfair lawsuits so that they can continue to contribute to a safe and effective recovery from this pandemic.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled that they will not support an additional coronavirus relief bill unless it provides liability protections for employers, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has been working with Senate leadership to draft legislation to address this issue.
- Workplace safety is a top priority for ABC and our members across the country. We strongly believe that employers should take steps to ensure that employees are protected, and we are dedicated to ensuring employers and employees have the latest and best information about workplace safety in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
- ABC supports OSHA’s current approach of issuing industry-specific guidance based on the latest information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Employers and employees alike are far better served by an approach that focuses on disseminating the latest information available and tailoring safety guidance to reflect the rapidly evolving understanding of this public health emergency.
- ABC is concerned with proposals that would require the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard at this time in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Such a requirement is included in the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020 (H.R. 6559) and would issue a rigid, one-size-fits-all standard.
This proposal would also require OSHA to issue a new standard prior to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention collecting data and conducting research on workplace COVID-19 cases. This is exactly the reverse of how good workplace safety policy should be made. Data is a critical component in the consideration and development of any workplace safety regulation.