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 KaineRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Senators aim to limit Trump's ability to remove troops from Germany MORE (D-Va.), who has been a vocal supporter of extending the program. Kaine and Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown MORE (D-Va.) wrote a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad State and local officials beg Congress to send more election funds ahead of November Teacher's union puts million behind ad demanding funding for schools preparing to reopen MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerA renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Trump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? 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 PappasTrade groups make lobbying push to be included in small business loan program Expanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support The Hill's Campaign Report: Buzz builds around Warren for VP MORE (D-N.H.) and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle 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 WittmanTrade groups make lobbying push to be included in small business loan program Overnight Defense: 32 dead in ISIS-claimed attack in Kabul | Trump says Taliban could 'possibly' overrun Afghan government when US leaves | House poised for Iran war powers vote next week Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel MORE (R-Va.) and Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerTrade groups make lobbying push to be included in small business loan program Virginia GOP to pick House nominee after candidate misses filing deadline Gun control group rolls out House endorsements MORE (D-Va.), as well as Kimberly Reed, president of the Export-Import Bank.

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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.

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.