Lame-Duck Priorities for Small Business

November 12, 2020

Although the 2020 election continues to loom large, lawmakers are set to return to Washington, D.C. on Monday, Nov. 16 to commence the lame-duck session which has no shortage of critical must-do pieces of legislation. Chief among those: passing another round of stimulus funding; pass a federal budget for 2020/2021; and send the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report to the president’s desk.

Enact Another Round of Stimulus

America’s small-business community has been extremely hard-hit by the pandemic and ensuing economic downturn, and now—more than ever—we need policymakers to move past the tribalism that has taken over our political process and reach across the aisle. It is clear over the past several months that despite what the Democratic-run House or Republican-run Senate pass independently, nothing will move forward some bipartisan efforts.

NSBA has urging for months that lawmakers need to pass another stimulus bill, however negotiations have stalled time and again along party lines. Now is the time to set aside the partisan arguments—especially now as businesses across the country face another round of mandated closures—to pass a bill. Any such bill should:

  • Allow the small businesses hardest hit to qualify for a second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan;
  • Allow forgiven PPP expenses to be deductible as ordinary business expenses;
  • Payroll tax relief that addresses both employer and employee rates;
  • Expand, update and improve the Employee Retention Tax Credit;
  • Allow small businesses to qualify for both a PPP loan and an ERTC but prevent “double dipping”;
  • Provide temporary liability protections for businesses that work to follow applicable public health guidelines;
  • Enable forgiveness funds to be used for PPE and other necessary safety modifications.
  • Ease regulatory impediments by extending filing deadlines where possible and create “grace periods” and/or an enforcement moratorium for rule violations that do not immediately endanger health and safety.

Click here to complete NSBA’s action alert on the stimulus bill.

Pass a Long-Term Spending Bill

Congress must also deal the rapidly approaching deadline of the current federal spending continuing resolution (CR) which expires Dec. 12.  Yesterday, Nov. 10, the Senate introduced all 12 annual spending bills which provide some significant differences from those introduced by the House earlier in the year. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) released the bills stating that, “By and large, these bills are the product of bipartisan cooperation among members of the committee.” And while there are provisions most Democrats oppose, there is a joint desire to pass the spending measures and avoid what could be a catastrophic government shutdown.

Oppose Beneficial Ownership Reporting

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is another piece of legislation Congress is expected to address, and is always seen as a top priority by policymakers on both sides of the aisle. Typically, the NDAA attracts a handful of provisions given its must-pass stature, and this year is no different.

One particular amendment that was added to the House’s NDAA at the last minute was the Corporate Transparency Act (H.R. 2513) – a bill NSBA has stridently opposed since its introduction. The would require ONLY small businesses with 20 or fewer employees to complete and submit annual paperwork which includes the personally identifiable information of each business owner to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in an effort to stem money laundering. Failure to comply would be a federal crime with civil penalties up $500 per day to $10,000 and criminal penalties of up to three years in prison.

NSBA supports efforts to stem money laundering, but this is the wrong way to do it, especially when you consider that the information is already being collected. Congress could easily require information sharing between FinCEN and the IRS which would include all the information H.R. 2513 is asking for and is something already permitted for certain law enforcement purposes. One glimmer of hope: a similar provision was not included in the Senate NDAA, meaning that the Conference Committee could reasonably remove the language from the final bill.

Please click here to complete NSBA’s Action Alert on the NDAA.

Thinking more long-term, there is no shortage of legislative fixes Congress can address if they truly want to help small business. We need more affordable and accessible health care; we believe in paying our fair share of taxes—but it must be fair and it should be easy to do it; we need our leadership to develop pragmatic guidelines and protocols to bolster cybersecurity when it comes to technology and finances; we need pragmatism and restraint when it comes to regulations; and we need security and sustainability when it comes to our transportation and communications infrastructure.

But first, the lame-duck.