Many industries are hurting and have asked for help from the U.S. government, as the coronavirus pandemic leads to sharp cutbacks in traveling, meals out, advertising and other spending.
Below are some of the latest requests from industries that are lobbying Washington for aid.
Congress and the Trump administration are expected to reach a deal in May or June on another relief package after delivering the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March and a $484 billion measure in April.
The two big aid packages together have provided about $670 billion to an emergency loan program for small businesses called the Paycheck Protection Program.
• Distillers: The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and other related groups in an April 22 letter asked top U.S. lawmakers to create an industry stabilization fund, describing it as a “government-wide grant program that would prioritize the hard-hit beverage alcohol industry.” The associations also called for the suspension of federal excise taxes on domestic and imported spirits, as well as a de-escalation of the trade dispute with the European Union through the simultaneous removal of the tariffs on EU and U.S. distilled spirits.
• Local broadcasters and newspapers:Trade groups representing local broadcasters and local newspapers are asking that PPP eligibility get determined at the local level “using a similar framework” that was utilized for restaurant and hotel chains, rather than by looking at a media outlet’s large parent company. The industry associations are also asking Congress to direct “current U.S. government advertising campaigns (such as those promoting the Census) to local news and media outlets,” as well as provide the “Department of Health and Human Services, the Small Business Administration and other relevant agencies with an additional $5 [billion] to $10 billion for direct funding for local media advertising.”
• Professional cleaners: The Cleaning Coalition of America in an April 22 letter to Congress asked for “additional funds in the form of grants or tax credits to keep professional cleaners on the payroll so that we can get public places cleaned and ready for everyday use before the economy reopens,” saying it’s “concerned that many of our companies would not be eligible to access small business loans in order to prevent additional furloughs.” The trade group for professional cleaning companies also requested priority access to personal protective equipment, enhanced health-care coverage and “well-defined regulatory guidance and clear oversight” around coronavirus liability for companies.
• Bus companies: The motor coach industry might get aid after two top House Democrats asked the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve in an April 24 letter to “provide at least $5 billion in loans to over-the-road bus carriers under the Economic Stabilization and Assistance to Severely Distressed Sectors of the U.S. Economy program of the recently enacted CARES Act.”
• Restaurants: The National Restaurant Association in mid-April asked Congress to establish a “Temporary Emergency $240 Billion Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund.” Separately, the Independent Restaurant Coalition is calling for a “restaurant stabilization fund.”
• Hotels: A trade group representing the hotel industry on Monday asked top U.S. lawmakers to increase the maximum amount that hotels are allowed to borrow in the PPP. The group’s other requested changes included letting hotels spend just 50% of proceeds from PPP loans on payroll, down from the current requirement of 75%.
• Local and state tourism bureaus: Destination marketing organizations such as Visit Florida also want aid and could benefit from a letter from a bipartisan group of legislators that calls for assistance for DMOs. “To ensure DMOs can continue to do their crucial work of driving domestic travel and tourism, we urge you to include them as eligible entities for federal support in programs like the PPP,” the April 16 letter said. “Additionally, providing targeted support for DMOs can be a powerful tool in generating the domestic spending we need to kick-start the economy.”
• Nonbank finance companies, including payday lenders: The American Financial Services Association, a trade group representing nonbank finance companies such as installment lenders and car financing firms, highlighted in a blog post last week how its allies in Congress are calling for the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department to allow nonbank finance companies to access the PPP. A bipartisan group of lawmakers sent an April 23 letter asking the departments to “harmonize applicable PPP regulatory rules and guidance to ensure lenders have the comfort they need to extend PPP loans to these companies.” Payday lenders weren’t explicitly mentioned in the letter, but a Politico report said the intent of the letter was to include such lenders in the request.
• Regional chambers of commerce and related groups: Local trade and professional associations organized as 501(c)6 groups haven’t been eligible for PPP loans, but they might get access to the aid following a letter from a bipartisan group of senators. “To help local 501(c)6s meet their current obligations and continue assisting small businesses in our communities, we endorse expanding access to the Paycheck Protection Program in forthcoming legislation,” said the letter dated Monday.