Trade groups make lobbying push to be included in small business loan program

Trade groups make lobbying push to be included in small business loan program
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The group that represents trade associations lobbied this week for professional and advocacy organizations struggling through the coronavirus to be eligible to receive small business loans.

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) hosted a virtual fly-in to call for changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so 501(c)(6) organizations can receive loans.

501(c)(6) organizations, which include trade associations, professional societies and local chambers of commerce, were left out of the program when Congress passed its $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill in March. 

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“These groups are finding themselves in extremely challenging financial situations as a result of the pandemic,” Chris Vest, ASAE director of public policy, told The Hill. “As the unemployment rate has skyrocketed, other revenue sources for associations are down as well, including membership dues, and things like advertising, and sponsorships."

The group spoke to Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Manchin, Sinema join GOP to sink filibuster change for voting bill Desperate Dems signal support for cutting Biden bill down in size MORE (D-Va.), who has been a vocal supporter of extending the program. Kaine and Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerCIA says 'Havana syndrome' unlikely a result of 'worldwide campaign' by foreign power Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates Biden moves to boost security of sensitive national security systems MORE (D-Va.) wrote a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Biden clarifies any Russian movement into Ukraine 'is an invasion' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure Voting rights and Senate wrongs MORE (D-N.Y.) in April urging changes to the PPP to include 501(c)(6) organizations.

“Many 501(c)(6)s are struggling because of significant declines or uncertainty in their membership dues resulting from COVID-19, and many have had to cancel major events that they rely on for funding,” the senators wrote.

Rep. Chris PappasChristopher (Chris) Charles PappasNew Hampshire Republicans advance map with substantially redrawn districts Chris Pappas launches reelection bid in New Hampshire Top House Democratic group launches six-figure ad campaign to sell infrastructure package MORE (D-N.H.) and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine On The Money — Ban on stock trading for Congress gains steam MORE (R-Texas) have also proposed legislation to allow local chambers of commerce and trade associations to access loans.

During the virtual fly-in, ASAE members also spoke to Reps. Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanHouse GOP members introduce legislation targeting Russia over Ukraine 'Trump in heels' Amanda Chase discontinues congressional run after redistricting Proposed Virginia maps put rising-star House Democrats at risk MORE (R-Va.) and Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerPelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress On The Money — Ban on stock trading for Congress gains steam Joining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks MORE (D-Va.), as well as Kimberly Reed, president of the Export-Import Bank.

ASAE is highlighting the issue now ahead of the PPP expiration on June 30. The group estimates that 34 percent of trade associations will experience a $100,001 to $500,000 loss in annual revenue due to cancellations or modifications to in-person conferences, expos and events.

“The bottom line for us is that our members and our constituencies in the non-profit community get the relief that they need,” Jeff Evans, ASAE associate director of public policy, told The Hill. 

501(c)(60 organizations were not originally included in the program because of how they are perceived, ASAE stressed.

“I think there may have been a misconception that 501(c)(6) organizations are primarily lobbying groups. Yes, it’s true that advocacy is an important function that many associations perform but the reality is that the majority of our resources and efforts goes towards educating the workforce, professional certifications, and creating product and safety standards,” Vest said. 

ASAE itself has more than 100 employees and only four of them are lobbyists. Evans noted that associations, on average, spend about 5 percent of their total resources on lobbying.

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They also think that Congress “assumed our community was flush,” Evans said, due to membership dues paid into trade associations and reserve funds associations may have. 

House Democrats’ have attempted to stop lobbyists from receiving PPP loans all together.

The $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which is unlikely to pass the Senate, includes a provision that prevents any business that has a lobbyist on its payroll from counting that lobbyist in calculating payroll costs in seeking PPP loans.

Businesses with lobbyists on their payroll can still apply for PPP loans, which are available to companies with up to 500 employees, but any lobbyist would not count as an employee. 

ASAE also lobbied during the fly-in for the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act, which would create a program to compensate businesses for losses due to pandemics, and the Skills Renewal Act, which would give furloughed or laid off workers a tax credit to apply to training or career development.