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WIPP Works In Washington: What's Next?

Posted By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate, Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, May 5, 2020
COVID-19 relief took the form of four bills passed by Congress in the last two months. All of this is centered around relief for workers and employers hit by COVID-19, including small business loan and forgiveness programs, aid to hospitals and money for test deployment, employer required sick leave, and direct payments to Americans. 
AnnSullivan
A staggering $2 trillion was spent in these four bills and the Federal Reserve Bank spent an estimated additional $4 trillion on relief. We learned the demand from small businesses for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster loans (EIDL) far exceeded available funding. Everyone is curious about the direction of future aid for obvious reasons. What’s going to be in the next bill or is there going to be a next bill? 

My best guess is that the next Congressional bill will be a hybrid of relief and recovery. Much is left to do on the relief side and refinement of the programs put in place by previous legislation. When programs are drafted in a hurry, unexpected issues arise that need to be addressed. Evidence is the number of guidance documents issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Treasury, and the IRS surrounding small business loan programs. For federal contractors, implementation of Section 3610 relief has generated extensive documentation. The next bill will most certainly contain changes to existing programs.

Is Congress going to deliver additional relief by providing additional funding for the PPP or EIDL programs? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested that Congress may slow down future relief, saying "until we can begin to open up the economy, we can’t spend enough money to solve the problem." Relief to state and localities has yet to materialize but is widely considered to be a major part of any future bill.

As governors start loosening restrictions on stay-at-home orders and industry starts to slowly reopen, the focus is slowly shifting toward economic recovery. Congressional leaders are looking at successful programs deployed during the Great Recession (2007-2009) that could be helpful during this pandemic. Another much talked about idea is a stimulus, such as a massive infrastructure program. This would not only cover shovel ready construction projects, but also broadband, telecommunications and technology infrastructure. 

Also bubbling up are tax deductions and credits for businesses who will need relief for many months to come. Businesses are asking for special liability restrictions due to COVID-19 in order to feel comfortable bringing employees back to work and opening their doors to consumers. The Senate has signaled this as a priority, but their House counterparts are not so sure. 

Lastly, the federal marketplace offers a tremendous opportunity for small business recovery, but the rules need to change to allow more dollars to flow to these businesses.

The “What’s Next” list is overwhelming because the need is so great. Our advocacy team is dedicated to ensuring women business owners have a voice in all of these deliberations. That’s the mission of WIPP – we intend on keeping it that way.

Tags:  Advocacy  COVID-19  legislation 

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