ABC-VA Blog

ABC Beltway Blueprint: Biden Proposes COVID Relief, Trump Impeachment Trial, PPP Update, and Upcoming Webinars

Biden Proposes $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Plan:

In a speech last night, President-elect Biden announced his plans for a $1.9 trillion relief package to further address the ongoing COVID pandemic, and asked for Congress to pass legislation to enact his plan soon after his inauguration next week. This would add to the additionally passed and signed into law COVID relief packages, including the $900 billion relief program from December, and March legislation that also provided approximately $2 trillion. Biden released a 19 page outline of his proposal, and the main highlights of the package include:

  • Additional $1400, one-time check to Americans to supplement the $600 checks from the December package. Some progressive Democrats have criticized the $1400 amount, claiming it would break the promise of $2000 checks.
  • Extension of emergency unemployment insurance program through the end of September and increased federal supplement of $400 per week, over the March deadline implemented in the December bill with the $300 supplement.  
  • $170 billion for schools, with $130 billion towards reopening and the rest assisting colleges shift to distance learning and other responses to the pandemic.
  • Raise in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the raise to $15 could increase pay for millions of Americans but also cost up to 1.3 million jobs
  • $440 billion for states and local communities, including $15 billion in grants for the hardest hit small businesses, $35 billion in government financing programs for small business, and $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments.
  • $160 billion for a national vaccination program, including $50 billion for improved testing and $40 billion for PPE and emergency response personnel.
  • Expand and extend paid leave requirements through September. While the December COVID relief package allowed employers to voluntarily extend paid leave, this proposal would expand and extend the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), mandating paid leave requirements for 14 weeks of up to $1400 per week and eliminating employer exemptions for those with more than 500 and fewer than 50 employees. The proposal would extend the refundable tax credit to reimburse 100 percent of cost to only to those employers with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Expand the child care tax credit up to $4,000 for one child and $8,000 for 2 or more children for parents making up to $400,000 annually.

 

Noticeably absent from the proposal is limited liability protection for businesses operating during the pandemic. While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of the Biden proposal, some Republican lawmakers have put out statements criticizing the package, showing the potential for additional negotiations needed in Congress without Democrats eliminating the filibuster.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the top Republican on the Senate Small Business Committee and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, commented on the President-elect’s plan. “President-elect Biden served in [the] Senate for over 35 years. So he knows the plan he outlined tonight can't pass "quickly" & will delay the 2k for hard hit Americans,” Rubio said Thursday night. Brady stated “True to form and his signature failed "stimulus," President-elect Biden launches yet another economic blind buffalo that does nothing to save Main Street businesses, get people back to work, or strengthen the economy.” 

House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) also released a statement criticizing the proposal here.
 

Trump Impeachment and Senate Trial:

On Wednesday afternoon, President Trump was impeached for the second time, with 10 Republicans joining 222 Democrats in supporting the impeachment article for incitement of insurrection. Now Democrats are conflicted on whether to start the impeachment trial immediately or delay to gather more evidence against the president and clear the schedule to allow for votes on cabinet confirmations and Biden’s COVID relief proposal. The Senate is not scheduled to return to Washington until January 19, and while the top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell has signaled his openness to convicting Trump for his role in the attack on the Capitol, a trial would not conclude before President Trump leaves office on the 20th. If convicted by a 2/3 majority in the Senate, Trump could be barred from ever holding office again through a subsequent simple majority vote in the Senate.

 

PPP Update:

While all lenders will have access to PPP funds starting on Tuesday, January 19, the SBA has failed to adequately provide guidance on the eligibility of 501(c)(6) organizations and restrictions on lobbying activities. At this time, it is unclear if applicants should use the IRS Form 990 or the Lobbying Disclosure Act for determining eligibility. ABC continues to press SBA and Treasury on this critical issue for state and local chapters.

Current PPP forms, guidance, and resources are available at www.sba.gov/ppp and www.treasury.gov/cares.  
 

Upcoming Webinar:  The COVID-19 Vaccine—Legal and Practical Implications

 Don’t miss the Littler Mendelson P.C. hosted webinar on the COVID-19 Vaccine—Legal and Practical Implications, which will be offered on Jan. 20 at 1 p.m. ET.

Topics covered during this webinar will include:

·        An update on priorities for distribution of the vaccine and the manner in which such decisions will be made

·        A review of the legal issues that need to be addressed in any vaccination program developed by employers

·        Requests to be excused from vaccination programs based on (1) religious beliefs, practices or observances under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act or (2) medical conditions and/or disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act

·        Benefits-related issues, including encouraging vaccinations as part of an employer’s wellness program

·        Wage and hour issues, such as vaccine costs, compensable time and the treatment of monetary incentives

·        Employee safety, workers’ compensation and privacy-related issues

·        Implementation of vaccination programs in a unionized setting, as well as the potential impact of the anti-vaccination movement and any “concerted protected activity”

·        A review of employee vaccination programs for global employers

 

Register for the webinar here.

 

ABC Webinar:  2021 Federal Legislative and Regulatory Forecast

 

On Jan. 28 at 3 p.m. ET, ABC will offer the webinar “2021 Federal Legislative and Regulatory Forecast” for ABC members and chapter staff.

Maury Baskin, Littler Mandelson P.C., Peter Comstock and Ben Brubeck, ABC National, will offer valuable insights on the following:

• How a 50-50 Senate and a narrow House majority impacts President Biden’s priorities

• The potential for additional COVID relief, infrastructure funding, and legislation affecting taxes and immigration

• How Democrats can use the budget reconciliation process to enact key priorities

• The future of the PRO Act and other labor legislation in Congress affecting the construction industry

• What executive orders can contractors expect under the Biden administration? Will the administration broaden the scope of the PLA EO on federal and federally assisted government contracts?

• Should federal contractors expect to be targeted by the Biden administration?

• How will the regulatory agenda under the Biden administration impact labor, safety and workforce development policies as well as federal contractors?

• Will OSHA issue a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard?

• How can ABC staff help contractors navigate through new legislation initiatives and regulatory actions?

 

Learn more and register here.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: New Member Meetings, Trump Set for 2nd Impeachment, PPP Update, OSHA Penalties, & Safety Standdown Reminder

Trump Set for 2nd Impeachment as Top Republican Backs Efforts:

The number 3 Republican in the House, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has publicly endorsed the House’s impeachment efforts against President Trump for his role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week. In a statement, Cheney said: “On January 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes[…] The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. Cheney also faulted Trump for not stepping in after the riot started: “The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” she said. “I will vote to impeach the president.” Republicans Fred Upton, Adam Kinzinger, John Katko and Jaime Herrera-Beutler have also publicly stated their support for impeachment. Further, reports have indicated that top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell is supportive of House impeachment efforts, raising the question of whether enough Senators could vote to convict Trump of his role in the attack and prohibit him from future presidential runs.

The resolution charges Trump with a single article of impeachment for “Incitement of Insurrection” and is expected to be passed with bipartisan support this afternoon/evening in the House. The Senate can try Trump following his departure from office next week and if convicted by a two-thirds majority in the Senate, Trump could be banned from holding future federal office subject to a simple majority vote in the Senate.

The House last night also passed a resolution by a vote of 223-205 calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment to remove President Trump from office. Only one Republican voted in support. Ahead of the vote, Pence told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter that requesting him to invoke the 25h Amendment to remove President Trump is not in the “best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” and urged members of Congress to “avoid actions that would further divide and inflame passions of the moment.”

 

FBI Warns of Armed Protests Ahead of Biden Inauguration:

 

An internal FBI bulletin is warning law enforcement officials of planned armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C. starting later this week and extending through the inauguration of President-elect Biden on January 20. The news of this warning has stoked additional fears that a similar event to last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol could occur again in D.C. and around the country.

 

PPP Update:

 

The SBA released information this week stating that it has so far received 1,346,125 Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness applications for approximately $170.5 billion.  SBA has made payment on nearly 85% of the applications, forgiving over $100 billion.  For the smallest borrowers with loans up to $50,000, 88% have been approved for forgiveness.

 

A reminder that SBA released new applications for the program and the most up to date guidance is also below. Note that ABC continues to seek additional guidance for 501(c)(6) borrowers, and reiterated the need for additional guidance in a call on Friday with SBA and Treasury officials. Today, businesses can start applying for second PPP loans if they go through certain lenders, including community development financial institutions and minority depository institutions.

 

Updated First Draw Forms

Second Draw Forms

Guidance & Resources

For more information and updates, visit SBA.gov/PPP or Treasury.gov/CARES.

U.S. DOL Announces Annual Adjustments to OSHA Civil Penalties:

On Jan. 13, the U.S. Department of Labor announced adjustments to Occupational Safety and Health Administration civil penalty amounts based on cost-of-living adjustments for 2021.

According to the release, OSHA’s maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $13,494 per violation to $13,653 per violation. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $134,937 per violation to $136,532 per violation.

The Department of Labor Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Annual Adjustments for 2021 final rule is effective January 15, 2021, and the increased penalty levels apply to any penalties assessed after January 15, 2021.

 

For more information, visit the OSHA Penalties webpage.

 

Join the ABC Construction COVID-19 Safety Stand-down on Jan. 14

 

As COVID-19 cases continue to spread across the country and local governments impose new stay-at-home orders, it is more important than ever to remind key officials that the construction industry continues to work in a safe and essential manner during this pandemic. To show we are staying safe on jobsites and reducing the spread of the coronavirus, ABC, the National Association of Home Builders and other construction organizations are hosting a COVID-19 Safety Stand Down from Jan. 11-15, with ABC members targeting Thursday, Jan. 14 for member activities. Learn more here.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: What the 117th Congress Means for Construction, ABC Statement on Labor Nominee, PPP Relaunch, and COVID Safety Stand-down

What the 117th Congress Means for Construction:

 

Please see today’s attachments, which include a sneak draft preview of ABC’s CE article for February from ABC’s Brad Mannion and Shreya Kanal on “What the 117th Congress Means for Construction” and an overview of potential labor and employment policies from the Biden administration.

 

ABC Statement on Marty Walsh for Labor Secretary:

 

ABC released a statement this morning on President-elect Biden’s selection of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his nominee for U.S. Labor Secretary. See full statement here.

 

PPP Relaunch Starts on Monday:

 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced today that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. Lenders targeting underserved communities will have exclusive access to offer loans to new borrowers Monday and Tuesday. They will then be able to offer second loans to existing borrowers Wednesday, and then the PPP is expected to open widely a few days later, according to the SBA.

 

Earlier this week, SBA released additional PPP guidance in accordance with the recently signed into law COVID relief legislation. Below are links to the new guidance and interim final rules. Of note, the FAQs for 501(c)(6) organizations fails to provide clear and concise guidance on how lobbying restrictions will be implemented, an issue that ABC has sought clarity on since the enactment of the new law. In a call with SBA and Treasury this afternoon, a number of organizations brought up the need for clarity on lobbying activities ahead of the program relaunch. SBA also stated their intention to post new applications for the program over the next couple days. We will continue to pursue additional guidance from our federal agencies and will update you with any additional information.  

 

Join the ABC Construction COVID-19 Safety Stand-down on Jan. 14

 

As COVID-19 cases continue to spread across the country and local governments impose new stay-at-home orders, it is more important than ever to remind key officials that the construction industry continues to work in a safe and essential manner during this pandemic. To show we are staying safe on jobsites and reducing the spread of the coronavirus, ABC, the National Association of Home Builders and other construction organizations are hosting a COVID-19 Safety Stand Down from Jan. 11-15, with ABC members targeting Thursday, Jan. 14 for member activities. Learn more here.

 

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Biden Selects Labor Secretary, Election Certified by Congress, PPP FAQs Released, Looking Ahead to New Congress

1/7/21

Biden Selects Labor Secretary:

 President-elect Joe Biden has picked Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former top union leader, to serve as his Labor secretary. Biden was widely expected to choose a Labor Department head who enjoyed the support of unions, given the president-elect's long-standing ties with labor leaders, his support for union organizing and the role the agency will play in implementing the pro-union agenda he campaigned on. ABC will be providing more information on this nomination, and please view House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx’s (R-NC) statement here: https://republicans-edlabor.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=407136.

 

Congress Certifies Biden Victory:

 While violent rioters stormed the Capitol grounds yesterday, delaying the Congressional certification of the electoral college results, the Joint Session of Congress reconvened in the evening to finish their constitutional obligation of certifying the results of the presidential election for the victor and President-elect Joe Biden. Following the votes, the House and Senate both recessed, with the Senate not scheduled to be in regular session until Jan. 19, and the House not back until Jan. 20.
 

ABC also released a statement on yesterday’s violent riots at the Capitol.
 

While 138 Republican members of the House and seven Republican Senators registered their objections to the results in at least one state, a number of those previously set to object reversed course and a bipartisan majority in both chambers voted to oppose these efforts and continue with Biden’s certification. Following the chaos on Capitol Hill many members of Congress took to the floor to express their concern with President Trump’s comments to a crowd of his supporters earlier in the day that they believe incited the riots and some Republican members of Congress also called on President Trump to finally concede the election and publicly commit to a peaceful transition of power on January 20.

 

Calls from Democrats for the president to be immediately removed from office through the invocation of the 25th Amendment have also increased today, including in a statement from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and a statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who also said that the House may move forward with impeachment if he is not removed.

 

Trump administration officials have announced their resignations after yesterday’s events, including Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao, Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger, and Mick Mulvaney who currently serves as U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland and previously served as Trump’s Chief of Staff.

 

While President Trump continues to issue false claims about his election victory and refuses to concede, he acknowledged the end of his term in the Oval Office early Thursday morning and said just minutes after Congress formally certified the Electoral College votes in favor of President-elect Joe Biden that there would be an "orderly transition of power" on Jan. 20. In additional fallout from the president’s comments yesterday, Facebook and Instagram announced that they would be blocking the president’s accounts on the social media sites indefinitely but at least through Biden’s inauguration.

 

PPP FAQs Released:

 

Last night, SBA, in consultation with the Treasury Department, released additional PPP guidance in accordance with the recently signed into law COVID relief legislation. Below are links to the new guidance and interim final rules. Of note, the FAQs for 501(c)(6) organizations fails to provide clear and concise guidance on how lobbying restrictions will be implemented, an issue that ABC has sought clarity on since the enactment of the new law. We will continue to pursue additional guidance from our federal agencies and will update you with any additional information.  

 

Looking Ahead to the New Congress:

After a tumultuous week on the Hill and Georgia Senate elections that handed Democrats the majority for the first time in six years, both chambers of the 117th Congress will not be back until the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States Joe Biden. ABC Government Affairs recently commented on the new Congress and administration in a couple of new interviews here and here. With the narrowest possible majority in the Senate and a slim majority in the House, Democrats could be moving forward with a very modest agenda for the 117th Congress.

 

If Democrats opt to maintain current Senate rules, then Republican support will be critical for any legislative efforts. Some bipartisan issues facing the new Congress are the enactment of additional COVID relief, a potential infrastructure package, and Democrats’ use of budget reconciliation to repeal or modify some the GOP tax bill.

 

On COVID relief, the issues of liability protections for businesses and increased funding for state and local government remain unresolved and could resurface when President Biden takes office and works with leadership in both chambers to enact additional COVID relief. Biden has said the recently enacted legislation last month was just the beginning and that he would pursue additional relief efforts when he takes office. Included int new relief could also be a new round direct checks to Americans and an extension of emergency jobless benefits beyond their current expiration in March. The president-elect has backed $2,000 stimulus checks for American families amid the pandemic and has said he will push for more funding for state and local governments to deal with the health crisis upon taking office.

 

Biden has also outlined a series of goals for tackling the pandemic in his first hundred days in office, including 100 million vaccine shots, encouraging widespread mask wearing during that period, and getting more children back in classrooms. Last week, he outlined plans for the federal government to play a stronger role in vaccinations as the current pace of vaccine administration significantly trails initial projections made by the Trump administration.

 

The president-elect has also been rumored to be pushing hard on a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure package to further assist with COVID recovery efforts in the next year. The president-elect's transition team has privately started laying the groundwork to strike a bipartisan infrastructure deal during the first year of his term, indicating to business leaders it sees an opening to use it as a driver for more economic and job relief as the U.S. emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. Previous plans for significant investment in infrastructure has been held up over disagreement on how to fund such projects. With a majority in both chambers, Democrats could simply propose their own funding revenue stream and force a tough vote for Republicans to invest in infrastructure or oppose funding measures, while hoping to win support of some moderates to enact the legislation. It is also expected that any infrastructure package from democrats could contain significant provisions related to climate change and favor labor union contractors over merit shop operators through a mandate of Project Labor Agreements. Over the past few years, ABC has worked closely with House and Senate committees to pursue reauthorization of transportation funding and the pursuit of additional funding for critical infrastructure projects and will continue to express our infrastructure priorities to members of Congress. ABC will also again be pursuing support for legislation that prevents PLA mandates on federal construction projects and will provide updates on our efforts.

 

Even with a Democratic majority, it is hard to imagine that Congress could significantly raise taxes on corporations and high-income households by $3 trillion over 10 years as Biden proposed in his campaign, though some corporate tax hikes could be possible under the budget reconciliation process that only requires a majority in the Senate, and bypasses the 60 vote threshold. Further, some of Biden’s proposed $1 trillion in tax cuts for low- and middle-income households could win passage with bipartisan support and the expansion of some refundable tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and some new retirement savings incentives for low-income workers, could be possible.

 

The Biden Administration is also expected to use his executive power to address significant labor issues, and President Trump’s actions on issues such as joint employer and independent contractors could be modified or eliminated under the new administration. President Biden is expected to use executive action to repeal some of President Trump’s anti-immigration efforts, including a 100-day moratorium on deportations, restoring protections for young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children through the DACA program, continuing temporary protected status (TPS) for some immigrants, and eliminating Trump's restrictions on asylum-seekers. Biden has also pledged to send a bill to Congress in the first 100 days that will ensure a pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, though it remains to be seen if this proposal could gain significant bipartisan support, particularly without other significant changes to the U.S. immigration system.

    

However, what is unknown at this point is if Senate Democrats pursue efforts to eliminate the upper chamber’s 60 vote threshold for cloture votes, also known as eliminating the filibuster, which would severely limit the need to seek any Republican buy in on legislative efforts in the House and Senate. This could also lead to a push for several high profile progressive priorities including, packing the U.S. Supreme Court, eliminating the Electoral College, and statehood for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia has stated publicly that he will not support exercising the nuclear option in the Senate, at this time.

 

Join the ABC Construction COVID-19 Safety Stand-down on Jan. 14

 

As COVID-19 cases continue to spread across the country and local governments impose new stay-at-home orders, it is more important than ever to remind key officials that the construction industry continues to work in a safe and essential manner during this pandemic. To show we are staying safe on jobsites and reducing the spread of the coronavirus, ABC, the National Association of Home Builders and other construction organizations are hosting a COVID-19 Safety Stand Down from Jan. 11-15, with ABC members targeting Thursday, Jan. 14 for member activities. Learn more here.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Rioters Storm Capitol, Democrats Win Georgia and U.S. Senate, DOL Independent Contractor Rule, & Bid to Overturn Election in Congress Set to Fail

1/6/2021
 

Rioters Storm Capitol:

 

Today, violent rioters stormed the Capitol grounds, clashing with police and security and breaking into the Capitol building and the Senate and House floors, causing evacuations across the Capitol and a delay in the Congressional certification of the electoral college results for President-elect Biden.

 

To address the riots and clear protestors from the Capitol the DC Mayor has implemented a 6pm curfew in the district, and the entire DC National Guard has been activated and riot police forces been mobilized to move the mob and restore order in the nation’s Capitol.

 

Some Republican members of Congress today also called on President Trump to finally concede the election to tamp down the riots and publicly commit to a peaceful transition of power on January 20.

 

Democrats Sweep Runoffs, Win U.S. Senate Majority:

 

Democratic U.S. Senate Candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have been declared winners of the two Georgia runoff elections held on Jan. 5. The Democratic wins in the two runoff campaigns, made necessary under Georgia election law that requires majority support to win office, will effectively clinch the narrowest possible majority for Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

 

Democrats will now have a slim majority control of both chambers of the 117th Congress after retaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives, initially winning the lower chamber in 2018. As President-elect Joe Biden prepares for his first day in office on Jan. 20, 2021, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will assume the role of president of the evenly divided Senate and will be able to cast tie-breaking votes, giving Democrats functional control of the upper chamber.

 

Around 1 a.m. ET this morning, Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) was the projected victor in the Senate special runoff election over appointed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R). At press time, Rev. Warnock’s lead is 64,488votes out of a current turnout of 4,424,426 ballots counted with a projected 98% of the vote reporting, a margin of 1.4% (50.7% - 49.3%).

 

As the special election winner, Rev. Warnock will stand again for election to a full six-year term in 2022.  Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) was elected to this seat in 2016 but resigned due to health reasons at the end of 2019.  Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Ms. Loeffler to replace Sen. Isakson to serve until the outcome of the special election, which determines who would hold the office for the balance of Isakson’s initial term in 2022.

 

Around 4 p.m. E.T. this afternoon, documentary filmmaker and 2018 House candidate Jon Ossoff (D) is declared the winner against incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R), giving Democrats the 50 senators they need to gain control of the Senate. At press time, Ossoff leads Sen. Perdue by 27,075votes of 4,419,407ballots counted, a margin of 0.62% (50.31% – 49.69%).  Ossoff wins the in-cycle seat, gaining a six-year term and will stand for reelection in 2026. 

 

Georgia counties have until Jan. 15 to certify results, while Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has until Jan. 22 to certify the statewide results.

 

ABC Supports Final DOL Revisions to Independent Contractor Status

 

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule that will clarify DOL’s interpretation of independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The rule will take effect 60 days after publication on the Federal Register, on March 8, 2021.

ABC released the following statement regarding the DOL’s final rule:

These smart revisions are a win for small businesses, free enterprise and economic growth as our country looks to rebuild and recover. We are pleased the final rule clarifies the DOL’s interpretation of independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act and promotes certainty for employers, independent contractors and employees. Independent contractors are an essential lifeline to the construction industry—they provide specialized skills, entrepreneurial opportunities and stability during fluctuations of work common to construction.

Bottom line: DOL’s final rule will promote economic growth in multiple industries, including construction, by providing greater clarity to industry employers as to the proper classification of independent contractors and employees under the FLSA.

On Oct. 26, 2020, ABC submitted comments on DOL’s proposed rule revising its interpretation of independent contractor status under the FLSA.

Bid to Overturn Electoral College Set to Fail In Congress:

 

As President Trump continues his refusal to concede the presidential election, Congress is set to certify the Electoral College votes this week, rejecting efforts of some Republicans to object to the election results in a number of states.

Before rioters caused a delay in the constitutional process to affirm President-elect Biden’s win today, in a three-page letter from Vice President Pence addressed to members of Congress, Vice President Pence said that he did not believe, as Trump has claimed, that a vice president has the power to reject some Electoral College votes for a candidate: “It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”

In the Senate, Republican’s Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor opposing other Republicans’ objections to the election results, denouncing "sweeping conspiracy theories" about widespread election fraud and said he "will not pretend" voting to overturn the election would be a "harmless protest gesture."

"I've served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I have ever cast," McConnell said. "Congress will either override the voters, overrule them — the voters, the states, and the courts — for the first time ever, or honor the people's decision. We'll either guarantee Democrats' delegitimizing efforts of 2016 become a permanent new routine for both sides, or declare that our nation deserves a lot better than this," he continued. "We will either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of elections actually accept the results, or show we can still muster the patriotic courage that our forebearers showed not only in victory, but in defeat."

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Georgia Runoffs Today, Electoral College Certification, & DOL Paid COVID Leave Guidance

Please see below for an update on: legislation, elections, and federal, state, and local policies affecting our construction businesses and workforce; ABC’s work with Congress and the administration; upcoming webinars; and critical action alerts to capitalize on opportunities to influence our nation’s leaders.

 

Georgia Runoff Elections TODAY:

The two U.S. Senate runoff elections today in Georgia will decide the control of the U.S. Senate over the next two years. The two elections conclude as hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent from both sides. Sen. David Perdue (R) will face Jon Ossoff (D), with the winner winning election to a full six-year term.  The other Senate contest is a special election between appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D). The winner of this race will serve the balance of the current term and then is eligible to stand for election to a full six-year term in 2022.

 

State of the Race –

Available public polling has the races in a statistical tie. The mail-in absentee ballots received and early in-person votes cast now total 3,031,963. This is 71% of November’s mail-in absentee ballots total and 78% of its early voting total, for a combined mail-in absentee ballots/early voting total, which is 75% of November’s turnout. Low-propensity voters make up 38.5% of the absentee ballots/early votes: they were 44% in November. Early voting ended Dec. 31; mail-in ballots must be received by 7 p.m. tonight.
 

It is expected to be a late evening for those watching the election results. Mail-in absentee ballots and early votes will be reported first tonight for most counties. As in Nov., Democrats are expected to dominate the mail-in absentee ballots and the early votes will be narrowly divided between the two parties, so expect the Democratic candidates to lead early in the evening, while Republicans are expected to gain ground throughout the night.

 

In the November general election, Republicans dominated with voters who turned out Election Day with Sen. Perdue winning 62% of the two-party vote. Both Republican campaigns expect to do slightly better than that and will use models to track results. These forecast that the bigger turnout today, the better for the GOP, especially if the remaining Absentee ballots moving through the mail are similar to those received so far. Bottom line: it is all about turnout.

 

President-elect Joe Biden and President Trump staged dueling rallies in Georgia yesterday, while Vice President Pence also campaigned in the state earlier Monday, and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris visited Sunday. 

 

ABC’s Political Advocacy –

See below for a quick summary of ABC’s political advocacy efforts in the Georgia U.S. Senate Special Elections

ABC has created helpful handouts for ABC members that feature side-by-side information on the two Senate races and the candidates’ stances on ABC priority issues: Perdue Ossoff web side-by-side, Loeffler Warnock web side-by-side, Palm Cards.

In addition to our ABC of Georgia Chapter endorsements of the two candidates (view here), ABC PAC launched an independent expenditure this morning for both Sens. Perdue and Loeffler.  Information can be found on ABC’s home webpage: Click here.

ABC PAC and ABC members also contributed over $201,000 directly to the campaigns and the party committees that are supporting them. 

In addition, the Free Enterprise Alliance, an entity of ABC, has invested nearly half a million dollars in issue advocacy and get-out-the-vote activity.  Issue advocacy videos highlighting issues that impact Georgians, our families, and our business.  You can view FEA’s work by clicking here.

Finally, ABC is hosted a webinar yesterday, Monday, Jan. 4 at 1:00 p.m. EST briefing members on the state of the Georgia races. Thank you to all who were able to join the webinar.  

 

Please review the Georgia Special Election One Pager to learn more about ABC’s involvement.

 

More Republicans Speak Out Against Electoral College Objections:

                      

Gearing up for tomorrow’s fight, more Republicans in the House and Senate have come out against their colleagues’ objections to the certification of the electoral college vote in a number of states. In a letter to House leadership, 12 House Republicans signed a letter stating in part:

 

“The text of the Constitution is clear. States select electors. Congress does not. Accordingly, our path forward is also clear. We must respect the states’ authority here. Though doing so may frustrate our immediate political objectives, we have sworn an oath to promote the Constitution above our policy goals. We must count the electoral votes submitted by the states.”

 

Signors: Ken Buck (Colo.), Ann Wagner (Mo.), Austin Scott (Ga.), Kelly Armstrong (N.D.), Chip Roy (Texas), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Nancy Mace (S.C.), Mike Gallagher (Wis.), Ashley Hinson (Iowa), Dan Newhouse (Wash.) and Peter Meijer (Mich.).

 

Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C) also issued a statement against the objections, stating “there is no constitutionally viable means for the Congress to overturn an election wherein the states have certified and sent their Electors.”

 

Tomorrow, a Joint Session of Congress will meet to certify electors. The joint session will begin around 1PM, and the certification process, objections, debates, and votes has the potential to run through the early hours of Thursday morning.

 

U.S. DOL Issues Guidance on Expiration of COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave:

 

On Dec. 31, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division issued additional guidance to address whether workers who did not use their leave entitlement under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in 2020 may use such leave after Dec. 31, 2020. The FFCRA’s paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements expired on Dec. 31. 

 

The new guidance is in the form of Frequently Asked Questions:

 

I was eligible for leave under the FFCRA in 2020 but I did not use any leave. Am I still entitled to take paid sick or expanded family and medical leave after December 31, 2020? See Question 104

 

I used 6 weeks of FFCRA leave between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, because my childcare provider was unavailable due to COVID-19. My employer allowed me to take time off, but did not pay me for my last two weeks of FFCRA leave. Is my employer required to pay me for my last two weeks if the FFCRA has expired? See Question 105

 

Further, the DOL press release pointed out that the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, extended employer tax credits for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave voluntarily provided to employees until March 31, 2021.  However, the CAA did not extend employees’ entitlement to FFCRA leave beyond Dec. 31, 2020, meaning employers will no longer be legally required to provide such leave.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: 117th Congress Kick Off, Republicans Divided on Election Certification, Georgia Runoffs, & PPP Update

Happy New Year! We are changing things up a bit with a new name - the “ABC Beltway Blueprint”, which will be at least a weekly update focusing on legislative action in Congress, executive action in the White House and federal agencies, and the political landscape for upcoming elections with an emphasis on how these events impact ABC members and the construction industry.
 

117th Congress Kicks Off:

Yesterday, the new members of the 117th Congress were sworn into office and in the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has led her party in the chamber since 2003, was selected to serve as Speaker for the fourth time in her career, in a 216-209 vote between her and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), with five Democrats voting present or for someone else. It is expected to be Speaker Pelosi’s last term as speaker, where Democrats maintain a slim 222-211 majority. In 2018, to win the support of detractors, she said she would seek a fourth and final term only if she had the support of two-thirds of her caucus. Pelosi also received support from prominent progressives in her caucus in a large show of unification among the Democratic party in the House that is seeking to exploit the Republican infighting over the presidential election results at this time.

 

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), shortly after the speaker's vote, forced his GOP colleagues to take a recorded vote that challenged the seating of the House delegations from Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada over GOP claims of systemic fraud and planned objections from some Republican representatives on Wednesday’s vote to certify the presidential election. Roy has objected to efforts to oppose the certification of the states’ election results for president and his point to some of his House colleagues claiming the election results in those five states were fraudulent, then they must concede that the House elections in those delegations are also rigged. Only two Republicans, Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Andy Harris (R-Md.), voted against seating their colleagues.

 

House Democrats also passed a new rules package today that will set the parameters for legislation in the House. The new rules include a provision that will limit the ability of the GOP to pass last-minute amendments to legislation through a motion to recommit. Republicans successfully used the motion to recommit eight times, vexing Democratic leaders by luring in support for the GOP provisions from their own party. The new rule would change the motion to recommit so that it kills legislation, which means Democrats are far less likely to support the last-minute GOP provisions.
 

Progressives were also pushing for the rules package to eliminate a longstanding pay-as-you-go, or PAYGO, provision that requires legislation that would increase the deficit to be offset. While the rules package does not get rid of PAYGO, it would provide the Budget Committee chairperson the authority to declare legislation providing economic and heath responses to the pandemic, as well as measures designed to combat climate change, as having no cost — effectively a PAYGO exemption for a number of costly Democratic priorities.
 

The Democratic rules package would also make it an ethics violation for members to knowingly distribute “deep fake” media. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy condemned the rules changes in a speech he delivered Sunday: “These rules throw away over 100 years of representation in our nation’s Capital by effectively killing a key opportunity to amend legislation,” McCarthy said. "Worse, they would penalize any member who shares news or views that liberals and their allies in the media deem 'fake.' They actually make it an ethics violation, which is usually reserved for such unbecoming conduct as bribery and corruption.”

In the Senate, the makeup currently stands at 51 Republican senators and 48 Democrats following the swearing in ceremonies. Should Democrats prevail in both the Georgia runoffs tomorrow, the split would become 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote, giving Democrats the majority.

 

Republicans Divided on Presidential Election Certification:

 

Every four years, the House and Senate come together to formally tabulate the electoral votes and raise any final concerns about the results. Normally, it is an obligatory confirmation of the Electoral College vote, however, a number of Republican members of the House and Senate have announced their intention to object to the results in several states where President Trump and his allies have raised dubious objections to the results that have already been rejected by the courts.

 

In the event of a challenge by a member of the House and Senate, the joint session of Congress would pause and lawmakers would go back to their respective chambers to debate for up to two hours. They would then vote on whether to toss out the electoral results of the state in question. Both chambers would have to agree to reject the votes, something that has not happened since the Reconstruction era, and with Democrats in control of the House, there is no chance that that chamber would vote to overturn the results. Further, while Republicans lead the Senate, several members of the party there have recognized Mr. Biden as the winner of the election, and Majority Leader McConnell and #2 Senate Republican John Thune (R-SD) has made it clear that the effort would not have their support either.

 

So far, it is estimated that more than 100 House members will object to the election results in at least one state and led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) 11 Republican Senators issued a joint statement about their intention to object. The move has caused infighting among Republicans in Congress with much of the criticism leveled at these detractors are that it is a political and being used to avoid primary challenges or gain favor with Trump supporters ahead of the 2024 presidential elections, with many of those objecting suspected of having presidential aspirations.

 

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), in an open letter to constituents this week, accused the lawmakers of trying to win over the president's supporters, adding, "Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government." Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) added that objecting during the Wednesday joint session "continues to spread the false rumor that somehow the election was stolen."

 

Other staunch Trump allies, including Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have also stated their opposition to objecting to the election results. In a statement, Cotton wrote: “The Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states — not Congress. They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College — not Congress. And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts — not Congress. And, “Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’s power is limited to counting electoral votes submitted by the state.” Cotton warned that if Congress threw out the electoral votes of states such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where President Trump has alleged without sufficient evidence widespread election fraud, it would “take away the power to choose the president from the people.”

Adding to the issue is a recent call from President Trump over the weekend to Georgia’s Secretary of State which has recently been supported on and called into questions the legality and morality of the call from the president and his attempts to pressure state officials over the election results in the state.

 

Georgia Runoff Elections Tomorrow:

The two U.S. Senate runoff elections tomorrow in Georgia will decide the control of the U.S. Senate over the next two years. The two elections conclude tomorrow as hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent from both sides. Sen. David Perdue (R) will face Jon Ossoff (D), with the winner winning election to a full six-year term.  The other Senate contest is a special election between appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D). The winner of this race will serve the balance of the current term and then is eligible to stand for election to a full six-year term in 2022.

State of the Race -

Available public polling has the races in a statistical tie. The mail-in absentee ballots received and early in-person votes cast now total 3,031,963. This is 71% of November’s mail-in absentee ballots total and 78% of its early voting total, for a combined mail-in absentee ballots/early voting total, which is 75% of November’s turnout. Low-propensity voters make up 38.5% of the absentee ballots/early votes: they were 44% in November. Early voting ended Dec. 31; mail-in ballots must be received by 7 p.m. tomorrow.

 

It is expected to be a late evening for those watching the election results. Mail-in absentee ballots and early votes will be reported first on Tuesday night for most counties. As in Nov., Democrats are expected to dominate the mail-in absentee ballots and the early votes will be narrowly divided between the two parties, so expect the Democratic candidates to lead early in the evening, while Republicans are expected to gain ground throughout the night.

 

In the November general election, Republicans dominated with voters who turned out Election Day with Sen. Perdue winning 62% of the two-party vote. Both Republican campaigns expect to do slightly better than that Tuesday and will use models to track results. These forecast that the bigger Tuesday’s turnout, the better for the GOP, especially if the remaining Absentee ballots moving through the mail are similar to those received so far. Bottom line: it is all about turnout.

 

President-elect Joe Biden and President Trump plan to stage dueling rallies in Georgia on today, while Vice President Pence also campaigned in the state earlier today, and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris visited Sunday. However, as President Trump continues to call into questions the election results in the state that voted for President-elect Joe Biden in November, many Republicans are concerned over the impact it could have on the Senate races at a pivotal moment.

 

ABC’s Political Advocacy –

 

See below for a quick summary of ABC’s political advocacy efforts in the Georgia U.S. Senate Special Elections

 

ABC has created helpful handouts for ABC members that feature side-by-side information on the two Senate races and the candidates’ stances on ABC priority issues: Perdue Ossoff web side-by-side, Loeffler Warnock web side-by-side, Palm Cards.

 

In addition to our ABC of Georgia Chapter endorsements of the two candidates (view here), ABC PAC launched an independent expenditure this morning for both Sens. Perdue and Loeffler.  Information can be found on ABC’s home webpage: Click here.

 

ABC PAC and ABC members also contributed over $201,000 directly to the campaigns and the party committees that are supporting them. 

 

In addition, the Free Enterprise Alliance, an entity of ABC, has invested nearly half a million dollars in issue advocacy and get-out-the-vote activity.  Issue advocacy videos highlighting issues that impact Georgians, our families, and our business.  You can view FEA’s work by clicking here.

 

Finally, ABC is hosted a webinar today, Monday, Jan. 4 at 1:00 p.m. EST briefing members on the state of the Georgia races. Thank you to all who were able to join the webinar.  

 

Please review the Georgia Special Election One Pager to learn more about ABC’s involvement.

 

PPP Update:

 

As a reminder, ABC send the attached letter to SBA and Treasury last week urging immediate action on new guidance for the additional $284 billion in PPP loans as authorized and funded by the COVID relief package. To date there has not been any additional guidance released from these federal agencies, which under the law, have 10 days to provide additional guidance on the program’s implementation.

 

We have heard that lenders are estimating an early-mid February timeline for new rules to be finalized and banks available to provide loans to businesses. ABC is continuing to monitor any developments on new guidance and will be sure to provide critical updates as necessary.

 

Statewide Vaccination Plans

 

ABC’s general counsel, Littler Mendelson, has prepared a chart that provides links to state agency websites, vaccine allocation plans, and other guidance related to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as basic vaccination plan phases.

 

The purpose of the information is to give employers a general idea of what vaccine-related actions various jurisdictions are taking. The chart is not all-inclusive and does not cover municipalities, some of which have issued their own guidance

 

EEOC Releases Q&A Guidance Section on COVID-19 Vaccination Policies

 

On Dec. 16, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new guidance on COVID-19 vaccination policies. To learn more about the EEOC guidance, see ABC’s general counsel’s analysis, EEOC Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccination Policies.

 

The EEOC updated its guidance entitled What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws by adding a section “K.” The new section addresses questions on COVID-19 vaccinations and the applicability of equal employment opportunity laws.

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ABC Legislative & Political Update: Trump Opposes COVID Deal, and Update on 501(c)(6)s

Trump Throws Wrench into COVID Deal:

 

After months of impasse and weeks of negotiating to get a final COVID relief package approved by Congress and with the assumed approval of the White House, President Trump, after a COVID relief/Omnibus package passed both the House and Senate with large bipartisan support, threw a wrench in the game stating his opposition to the package while calling for additional relief checks for individuals and removing portions of the spending bill. Some of the spending Trump has objected to so far has been spending that his own budget supported.

 

This latest change in tune from the president comes at a time when he is upset with Republicans that have abandoned his pursuit to overturn the November election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has acknowledged Biden as the President-elect while attempting to tamp down efforts from Republicans in Congress to object to the electoral college results on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump also recently lashed out at the Senate’s #2 Republican Sen. John Thune, who stated efforts to object to the electoral college and challenge Biden’s win would go down like a shot dog.

 

It is unclear the path the Trump’s last ditch efforts to change the bill could take. He has not explicitly said he would veto the legislation, but if he does, and does so quickly, Congress could vote to override. However, Trump could also issue a pocket veto — a timeframe that would make it impossible for lawmakers to override before the new Congress starts. Pocket vetoes occur when the President receives a bill but is unable to reject and return the bill to an adjourned Congress within the 10-day period. The bill, though lacking a signature and formal objections, does not become law. Pocket vetoes are not subject to the congressional veto override process. As the package hasn’t been presented to Trump yet and is expected to take days to enroll, with the end of the 116th Congress coming on Jan. 3, it appears too late at this time to prevent a pocket veto and the new Congress would have to address the issue.

 

With government funding expiring on Dec. 28, the question for now is does Trump veto the bill, cave and sign the relief and spending bill into law, or does he allow the government to shut down and prevent emergency aid from being doled out to millions of Americans and businesses in need?

 

Trumps recently stated opposition also poses a problem for Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who supported the legislation and face extremely tough runoff elections in January.

 

The House is set to return to Washington on December 28 to override the president’s recent veto of the bipartisan Defense authorization bill, and could also vote on a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown and additional funding to provide $2,000 checks to Americans.

 

501(c)(6) Update:

 

As stated in previous emails, the COVID relief package, which is now up in the air, 501(c)6 organizations would be eligible for Paycheck Protection Program loans under the new deal. However, the devil is in the details of this new eligibility. Under the bill, a 501(c)(6) organization is eligible for PPP loans if:

  • The organization does not receive more than 15 percent of receipts from lobbying activities;
  • The lobbying activities do not comprise more than 15 percent of the organization’s total activities;
  • The cost of lobbying activities of the organization did not exceed $1,000,000 during the most recent tax year that ended prior to February 15, 2020; and
  • The organization has 300 or fewer employees.

 

While this eligibility is outlined in the bill, the bill’s language is vague and lacks critical guidance needed to ensure compliance and eligibility for ABC state and local chapters. It is critical, that if this bill is signed into law, the SBA and Treasury should issue appropriate guidance, particularly on how to measure “receipts from lobbying” and “lobbying activities.” ABC is concerned that our chapters could remain locked out of the PPP despite dedicating modest resources to lobby the government, and additional guidance on these issues is critical to ensure consistent, fair and inclusive application of these eligibility requirements.

 

Some potential guidance for SBA and Treasury to issue would be:

  1. Clearly define 501(c)(6) nonprofits “receipts from lobbying” as revenue generated by the nonprofit for the express purpose of financing lobbying activities;
  2. Define “lobbying activities” as having the same meaning as set forth under the Lobbying Disclosure Act; and
  3. Clarify that the timeframe parameters for the third criterion (the most recent tax year that ended prior to February 15, 2020) should also be used as the period for measuring the organization’s percentages of expenditures and receipts relating to “lobbying activities” under the first two criteria.

 

ABC will continue to work to address this issue and will potentially hold a webinar to discuss ways forward on critical guidance, depending on the president’s actions towards the COVID legislation over the coming weeks.

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ABC Legislative & Political Update: COVID Deal, 501c6 PPP Eligiblity, Omnibus, Georgia Special Election Briefing, & EEOC Vaccine Guidance

Congress Reaches COVID Deal:

The House and Senate last night passed a more than 5000 page bill providing COVID relief, annual funding for government agencies and several end of year provisions that members of Congress were able to attach in what is the last major legislation of the 116th Congress. The entire package is estimated at more than $2 trillion and now heads to the President for signature.

You may view a section by section summary of the COVID relief section of the bill here, and an overview of the small business provisions of the relief here.

For a summary of the appropriations section view here, and for other provisions included in the bill here.

Among some of the most critical wins that ABC advocated for in the bill are the full deductibility of PPP loans, expansion of PPP loans to 501(c)6 organizations, and extension and expansion of the employee retention tax credit. Notably missing, however, is the liability protections for businesses operating through the pandemic, which ABC continues to advocate for.

 

501(c)6 PPP Requirements:

The new COVID relief provides eligibility of 501(c)(6) and Destination Marketing Organizations for Loans Under the Paycheck Protection Program. ABC is reviewing how this new eligibility will affect our state and local chapters and will provide information and any critical updates on PPP guidance from the Small Business Administration once the bill is signed into law.

 

Under the bill, eligibility to receive a Paycheck Protection Program loan is expanded to include 501(c)(6) organizations if:

  • The organization does not receive more than 15 percent of receipts from lobbying;
  • The lobbying activities do not comprise more than 15 percent of activities;
  • The cost of lobbying activities of the organization did not exceed $1,000,000 during the most recent tax year that ended prior to February 15, 2020 and
  • The organization has 300 or fewer employees.


The bill also contains a prohibition on Use of Loan Proceeds for Lobbying Activities, prohibiting any eligible entity from using proceeds of the covered loan for lobbying activities, as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act, lobbying expenditures related to state or local campaigns, and expenditures to influence the enactment of legislation, appropriations, or regulations.

 

Georgia Special Election Update:

Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler face an extremely tough runoff election and ABC has created helpful handouts for ABC members that feature side-by-side information on the two Senate races and the candidates’ stances on ABC priority issues.  The one-pagers and palm cards are attached for your review. You will find a featured QR code that will take your members to a webpage of the above primary contact handout that goes into further detail on what is at stake.
 

In addition to our chapter endorsements (view here), ABC PAC launched an independent expenditure this morning for both Sens. Perdue and Loeffler.  Information can be found on ABC’s home webpage: CLICK HERE!
 

ABC PAC and ABC members also contributed over $201,000 directly to the campaigns and the party committees that are supporting them. 

In addition, the Free Enterprise Alliance, an entity of ABC, has invested nearly half a million dollars in issue advocacy and get-out-the-vote activity.  Issue advocacy videos highlighting issues that impact Georgians, our families, and our business.  You can view FEA’s work by clicking here. the link below.

Finally, ABC is hosting a webinar on Monday, Jan. 4 at 1:00 p.m. EST to brief our members on the state of the Georgia races.  This webinar is open to any ABC member and there is no cost to register. Click here to register for the webinar.

Also, please review the Georgia Special Election One Pager to learn how you can get involved today. 

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ABC Legislative & Political Update: COVID Deal, Omnibus, Georgia Special Election Briefing, & EEOC Vaccine Guidance

12/21/20

Congress Reaches COVID Deal:

 

While talks continued through the weekend and additional stop gap funding legislation had to be passed, Congressional leaders along with the White House finally reached a deal on an additional $900 billion COVID relief package before the end of the year. The more than 5000 page bill also includes annual funding for government agencies and several end of year provisions that members of Congress were able to attach in what is the last major legislation of the 116th Congress. The entire package is estimated at more than $2 trillion and is set to pass tonight.  

 

Among some of the most critical wins that ABC advocated for in the bill are the full deductibility of PPP loans, expansion of PPP loans to 501(c)6 organizations, and extension and expansion of the employee retention tax credit. Notably missing, however, is the liability protections for businesses operating through the pandemic, which ABC continues to advocate for. Below is an overview of the critical provisions of the deal.

 

Direct relief for individuals: $286 billion

  • $300/week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) through March 14, 2021 and extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment
  • Compensation (PEUC) programs.
  • Direct checks of $600 for individuals making up to $75,000, checks of $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, and $600 for each child dependent

 

Small business support: $325 billion

  • Extends and expands the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses by providing an additional $284 billion for forgivable loans:
    • Provides “second draw” for small businesses and non-profits with 300 or fewer employees that can demonstrate a loss of 25% of gross receipts in any quarter during 2020 when compared to the same quarter in 2019 totaling 2.5 times the average monthly payroll up to $2 million
    • Allows for small businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industries to receive larger awards of 3.5 times average total monthly payroll, rather than 2.5 times
    • Expands PPP eligibility for more critical access hospitals, local newspapers and TV and radio broadcasters, housing cooperatives, and 501(c)(6) nonprofits, including tourism promotion organizations and local chambers of commerce
      • The organization does not receive more than 15 percent of receipts from lobbying;
      • The lobbying activities do not comprise more than 15 percent of total activities;
      • The cost of lobbying activities of the organization did not exceed $1,000,000 during the most recent tax year that ended prior to February 15, 2020; and
      • The organization has 300 or fewer employees
    • PPP loans will not be included in taxable income, and deductions are allowed for expenses paid with proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan with no restrictions
    • $20 billion is included for new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grants for businesses in low income communities
    • $15 billion in funding for community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and the creation of a new Neighborhood Capital Investment program
    • $15 billion in funding for entertainment venues, movie theaters, and museums that are experiencing significant revenue loss
    • $3.5 billion for continued SBA debt relief payments and $2 billion for enhancements to SBA lending.
  • Rescinds $429 billion in unused funds provided by the CARES Act for the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending facilities and terminates these facilities

 

Healthcare: $63 billion

  • Vaccine funding, including $20 billion to BARDA for procurement of vaccines and therapeutics, $9 billion to the CDC and states for vaccine distribution and $3 billion for the strategic national stockpile, including $300 million specifically directed to high risk and underserved areas for distribution
  • $22 billion, all sent directly to states, for testing, tracing and COVID mitigation programs.
  • Additional healthcare funding – $4.5 billion in mental health funding, $9 billion in support for health care providers, $1 billion for NIH to research COVID-19, and $1 billion in direct funds to the Indian Health Service

 

Education, childcare, and broadband: $99 billion

  • $82 billion in funding for schools and universities
  • $10 billion for grants to childcare centers to help providers safely reopen
  • $7 billion in broadband funding that includes
    • Nearly $2 billion to replace foreign manufactured broadband equipment that poses national security threats
    • $300 million to build out rural broadband
    • $250 million for telehealth

 

Housing and nutrition: $51 billion

  • $13 billion to increase SNAP benefits by 15% for six months, including $614 million for nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico and the territories
  • $25 billion in temporary and targeted rental assistance extension of the eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021
  • Provides funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, a program that serves over 700,000 older Americans monthly
  • $13 billion to support our farmers and agriculture sector
    • Enhances assistance under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to support specialty crop, non-specialty crop, livestock, dairy, and poultry producers
    • Gives discretionary authority to the Secretary to support producers of biofuels, producers of organics or value-added products, and timber harvesting and hauling businesses

 

Transportation: $45 billion

  • $45 billion in transportation funding, including $15 billion for airline payroll support, $1 billion for airline contractor payrolls, $14 billion for transit, $10 billion for state highways, $2 billion for airports and airport concessionaires, $2 billion for the private motorcoach, school bus, and ferry industries, and $1 billion for Amtrak.

 

Tax: $30 billion

  • Extends and expands the refundable Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) through July 1, 2021 including:
    • increasing the credit rate, from 50% to 70%;
    • Raises the limit on per-employee creditable wages from $10,000 for the year to $10,000 for each quarter;
    • Expands eligibility for the credit by reducing the required year-over-year decline in gross receipts from 50% to 20%; and
    • Modifies the threshold for treatment as a ‘large employer’ by increasing the 100-employee delineation for determining the relevant qualified wage base to employers with 500 or fewer employees.
  • Reinstate 100% business meals deduction through 2022
  • “Lookback” provision allowing lower-income individuals to use their earned income from tax year 2019 to determine the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit
  • Extension of paid sick and family leave, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided a refundable payroll tax credit for the mandated paid sick and family leave. This legislation extends the tax credit through March 2021 for employers that continue to offer paid sick and family leave to their employees.
  • one-year extension of the $300 above-the-line-deduction for charitable giving and increasing the amount for 2021 that married couples filing jointly can deduct from $300 to $600

 

ABC Concerned Over Possible Davis-Bacon Provisions Folded Into Energy Sections of Appropriations Omnibus:

A long-awaited energy package focusing on renewable technologies and alternative energy sources has been included in the year-end omnibus appropriations package. The bill is a bicameral compromise piece of legislation that stemmed from two parallel bills in each chamber of Congress.

In September, the House passed the Clean Economy and Jobs Innovation Act (H.R. 4447), by close to party line vote. Ahead of the vote, ABC sent a key vote letter in opposition to the bill due to the several radical labor provisions in an en bloc amendment offered by Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA-01) that included Davis-Bacon expansion, Project Labor Agreement mandates, the Obama-era Blacklisting rule on contractors, the state of California’s ABC Test for independent contractors, carving out industry recognized apprenticeship programs, and many ABC-opposed other provisions. Meanwhile, the Senate’s S. 2657 was never passed by the upper chamber, but was the subject of great debate due to the body’s Republican leadership. ABC commented on S. 2657, successfully urging the bipartisan bill sponsors to reject the radical labor provisions of H.R. 4447 referenced above in their negotiations.

The so-called “Labor Standards” section of 4447 that ABC staunchly opposed was also ultimately left out of the final version that was included in the appropriations Omnibus released today, as were more controversial provisions on increased building code standards. ABC supported an amendment from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to strike the Davis Bacon provisions from S. 2657, ABC also expressed our concerns with the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage provisions of the negotiated bill and requested that the appropriations omnibus negotiators remove additional Davis-Bacon Act requirements in the final bill. However, after reviewing the final Omnibus bill text released this afternoon, Davis-Bacon requirements are included on 5 of the 26 energy sections created by the energy compromised bill.  

By referencing sections of Davis-Bacon related acts – in this case, section 602 of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 3212). On pages 1218-1219, the language is used to apply Davis-Bacon to five sections of the bill.

 

ABC is still reviewing the bill text to determine the size and scope of Davis-Bacon inclusion in the following sections: 3001. WATER POWER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT; 3003. WIND ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT; 3004. SOLAR ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT; 5001. CARBON REMOVAL; and 8007. TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATION ON THE DISTRIBUTION GRID.

 

Omnibus includes WRDA 2020:

 

The bicameral, bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2020 or WRDA 2020 has been included in the year end omnibus appropriations package. WRDA 2020 focuses on Army Corps of Engineers projects exclusively, authorizing 46 new water resource infrastructure projects. Notably - the bill does not include drinking water and clean water measures as the bills have done since 2014. Additionally, WRDA 2020 does not include many of the provisions from the previous Senate water infrastructure bill that was agreed to unanimously by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which ABC commented on.

 

ABC, as a member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition, was successful in working with House and Senate authorizers to ensure that burdensome National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting legislative changes were not included in WRDA 2020. For more details, the coalition letter can be read here.

 

Omnibus Includes Surprise Billing Fix:

 

Congress is set to include a hard-fought ban on “surprise” medical bills as part of a massive spending package that it will pass alongside its coronavirus relief legislation today. Key players in the fight reached an agreement more than a week ago on a plan for protecting insured patients from large medical bills when they unwittingly receive out-of-network care. ABC supported a fix to surprise billing to lower health care costs.

 

Georgia Special Election Briefing:

 

Join ABC on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, at 1 p.m. ET as we discuss the Georgia Special Elections and the impact they will have in 2021. All ABC members and staff are invited to attend.

 

Election Briefing: Georgia Special Election

Monday, Jan. 4

1-2 p.m. ET

RSVP Today: CLICK HERE

 

Review the Georgia Special Election One Pager to learn how you can get involved today. 

 

EEOC Releases Q&A Guidance Section on COVID-19 Vaccination Policies:

 

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new guidance on COVID-19 vaccination policies. To learn more about the EEOC guidance, see ABC’s general counsel’s analysis, EEOC Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccination Policies.

 

On December 16, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance entitled What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws by adding a section “K.” The new section addresses questions on COVID-19 vaccinations and the applicability of equal employment opportunity laws.

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