Chamber calls for relief for employees of mid-size and larger companies

Chamber calls for relief for employees of mid-size and larger companies
© Greg Nash

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote to Congress as the Senate negotiates a third coronavirus relief bill, calling for more protections for employees of mid-size and larger firms.

The Chamber asked the Senate to build on the relief for small businesses with relief for larger employers — but with less generous terms — through a bridge loan. 

“We urge you to build upon these provisions to protect the 68 million Americans who work for an employer with more than 500 employees," CEO Thomas Donohue wrote in a letter on Friday. "Absent action by Congress, many employees of mid-size and larger firms will become unemployed."

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The bridge loan would be available for companies with more than 500 employees that have seen a revenue loss of 10 percent or more as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The Chamber suggests the loan be three months of payroll expenses, including pro-rata health care expenses, and be repayable over five years.

The pro-business lobbying group also suggested that companies that experience more than 25 percent loss in revenue but maintain at least 90 percent of their employees at existing pay levels through December 2020 should have 10 percent of their loans forgiven. And additionally, that the loans are issued by financial institutions through a credit facility. 

“No none wants to see the massive layoffs that we’re beginning to see and we’re all fearful of,” Neil Bradley, Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer, said on a call with reporters Friday.

Bradley also noted that this loan structure will save the federal government money because it offers incentives for companies not to lay off their employees, who would then file for unemployment. 

“We are all much better off if we can keep people connected to and getting a paycheck from their employer,” Bradley said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPublic awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Democrats: A moment in history, use it wisely 'Comrade' Trump gets 'endorsement' from Putin in new mock ad by Lincoln Project MORE (R-Ky.) plans to reach an agreement by the end of the day Friday on a third coronavirus package so the Senate will vote on a stimulus deal, if one is reached, early next week.

The Chamber also indicated its support for proposals like providing loans to small businesses of up to 500 employees that will be converted to grants, the launch of a credit facility supporting $150 billion in loans, and $50 billion in loans to the airline industry.