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Business groups applaud Biden's COVID-19 relief plan

Business groups applaud Biden's COVID-19 relief plan
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President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE’s $1.9 trillion plan to provide economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic was largely welcomed by the business community that has been a loud advocate for further relief.

Biden’s plan, which he announced Thursday, includes $415 billion focused on fighting COVID-19, upwards of $1 trillion on direct aid to individuals and families and another $440 billion in aid to businesses. 

The traditionally conservative-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcomed Biden’s plan, noting the proposal's focus on vaccinations.

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“We must defeat COVID before we can restore our economy and that requires turbocharging our vaccination efforts.  We look forward to working with the new administration and Congress on the details and in ensuring that any additional economic assistance is timely, targeted, and temporary,” the pro-business lobbying group said in a statement.

The Chamber teamed up with the Bipartisan Policy Center to launch a coalition of nearly 150 trade groups on Thursday to push for an infrastructure package to pass Congress by the Fourth of July.

Biden stressed in his speech his commitment to infrastructure and said that in his first joint session of Congress next month he will lay out his plan to invest in infrastructure. 

The travel industry also hailed Biden’s emphasis on accelerating vaccine distribution, stating they believe it is key to getting travel back to normal.

“Further, we are encouraged by the measures to provide additional grants and loans to small businesses in the hardest-hit industries, which include travel,” U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow said in a statement.

Biden’s plan also includes $1,400 in direct payments to individuals, rounding out payments to $2,000 when paired with the $600 passed in the December relief package.

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The retail industry supported that provision as a way to grow the economy. 

“We support providing critical government assistance in the form of direct payments to families and individuals whose lives have been disrupted, further aid for small businesses across the country, and tools to keep businesses open and the economy growing,” National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.   

One business group, which represents the franchise industry, said Biden’s plan to raise the minimum wage will be harmful. Biden’s plan included increasing the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.

“Our goal is to ensure small businesses can continue to provide for their communities and their employees. However, a requirement to more than double some workers’ wages will harm struggling businesses and likely slow the recovery,” said Matt Haller, International Franchise Association senior vice president of government relations and public affairs.

Haller added that small businesses and their employees would be better served by support from the Paycheck Protection Program and other loan programs.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition, a group that was formed during the pandemic to help independent restaurants, said it was encouraged by Biden’s support for direct aid to restaurants and bars. 

The coronavirus relief package passed in December did not provide direct funds to restaurants and bars and the coalition said at the time that it fell “woefully short.”

The First Five Years Fund (FFYF), which advocates for the child care industry, was grateful that Biden’s plan included $40 billion in relief for child care providers. The plan included a $25 billion child care stabilization fund, among other provisions. 

“Given the unsustainable financial circumstances most child care providers and families are in as a result of the ongoing pandemic, there can be no doubt that further relief is needed to ensure these essential businesses can afford to continue operating and parents can afford care,” FFYF executive director Sarah Rittling said.