Business groups across hard-hit industries applauded provisions of the Senate Republicans’ roughly $1 trillion coronavirus relief package, which was rolled out on Monday.
The GOP plan would extend Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility to nonprofit or quasi-governmental tourism marketing organizations, which the travel industry’s lobbying group has been pushing for since these businesses were left out of the COVID-19 aid package Congress passed in March.
U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow issued a statement calling it a “welcome update” because destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are economic development agencies that work to drive visitors to local and regional businesses.
“Senate leaders are to be credited for this foresighted measure that extends Paycheck Protection Program relief to DMOs, which lays a much more comprehensive policy groundwork for travel businesses to be able to restore jobs and fuel a national economic recovery,” Dow said.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), which represents the hotel industry, also applauded the bill for liability protections it provided to businesses, as well as additional PPP funding.
The bill includes a five-year shield from coronavirus-related lawsuits unless an entity engaged in “gross negligence” or “intentional misconduct.” Business groups have been aggressively lobbying for a liability shield in this round of coronavirus relief.
“We urgently need help just so hotels can remain solvent in order to retain and rehire our employees. We applaud lawmakers who have recognized this fact while crafting this critical legislation,” AHLA CEO Chip Rogers said in a statement.
The GOP proposal would also include a plan from Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCongress set for messy COVID-19 talks on tight deadline McConnell, Rubio defend senior intel official over remarks on election interference GOP senators push for stimulus checks to almost 2M excluded Americans MORE (R-Fla.) and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins100 Days: Democrats see clear path to Senate majority VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage The Hill’s Campaign Report: Campaigns prepare for homestretch run to Election Day MORE (R-Maine) to have another round of PPP loans that would focus on the hardest-hit small businesses, limiting it to those with at most 300 employees, down from the 500-worker limit.
Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) praised the liability provision in the bill, saying that retailers have been following safety guidelines and mandates.
“Federal law should protect, not punish, these employers when they can demonstrate they have followed safety guidelines and mandates issued by government authorities,” Michael Hanson, RILA senior executive vice president of public affairs, said in a statement. “The proposal announced today creates a federal shield for employers against meritless COVID-19 claims. Leading retailers welcome the protection.”
But the Independent Restaurant Association says the Republican bill does not go far enough.
“The longer Congress waits to deliver relief to independent restaurants, the more businesses risk permanently shuttering and wiping out at least 16 million jobs across the country,” the group said in a statement.
It added that the PPP changes were a “good start, but independent restaurants don’t need another loan when we are accumulating more debt and taking on more losses due to circumstances out of our control.”
The child care industry, represented by the advocacy group the First Five Years Fund, also called for more funding in the package. The bill includes $15 billion in child care relief funding, which the fund said is insufficient.
“Americans want Congress to treat child care like the essential industry that it is and provide the necessary relief required for providers to continue safely caring for children in their communities. If the nation’s providers are to remain in business, we know that more than $15 billion will be required to keep providers afloat for what promises to be a much longer recovery than was previously predicted,” First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling said in a statement.