The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has set up this live blog to provide important news and updates related to the coronavirus outbreak specifically for the business community. Check back daily for updates and find the latest guidance and resources on our Coronavirus homepage.
Thursday, March 26 | 9:30 A.M.
Chamber Applauds Senate Passage of CARES Act, Urges House to Act
Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue applauded Senate passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and urged the House to immediately pass the legislation.
“The CARES Act could make the difference between keeping a business up and running or being forced to reduce salaries, layoff employees, or shutter businesses entirely,” Donohue said.
Wednesday, March 26 | 8:00 P.M.
Trump and Mnuchin Call for Quick Passage of Stimulus Package
At a brieifng with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force Wedneday evening both President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said they hope the Phase 3 coronavirus relief package will be voted on, and passed, tonight.
Trump outlined key parts of the bill saying it will include:
- Retention loans for small businesses and $250 billion in expanded unemployment benefits for independent contractors
- $300 billion for direct cash payments to workers earning less than $99K per year
- Over $500 billion for hardest-hit industries with limits on stock buybacks and executive compensation
- $100 billion for the medical field, $45 billion for the disaster relief fund, $27 billion to help build up the strategic national stockpile, $8 billion for vaccine development, and $16 billion for personal protective equipment
The Task Force reiterated that FEMA continues to surge supplies to the New York metro area, which has 56% of all current and new cases.
Wednesday, March 26 | 6:00 P.M.
Chamber’s Donohue on CNBC: “This Country Will Stand for Nothing Else”
Chamber CEO Tom Donohue joined Brian Sullivan on CNBC’s Fast Money today to discuss the current and future state of the economy in light of COVID-19.
“We need to take all of these resources we’ve assembled under this very good bill and begin immediately to distribute them around this country so that no company goes bankrupt, no citizen goes bankrupt, no family goes bankrupt. We have things in this bill to avoid it, let’s do it,” Donohue said.
On the future of our economy, Donohue added: “I’m an absolute optimist – this country will stand for nothing else.”
Wednesday, March 25 | 5:00 P.M.
Chamber Welcomes Pledge to Maintain Trade Flows
Chamber Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant commended a joint statement made Wednesday by the governments of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Myanmar, New Zealand and Singapore affirming their commitment to keeping trade lines open.
“The Chamber welcomes the pledge by these governments to refrain from export controls, tariffs, and non-tariff measures that threaten to impede the movement of essential goods, especially medicines and medical countermeasures and similar supplies,” Brilliant said.
“The ability of U.S. industry to deliver these supplies to hospitals and medical practitioners is threatened by such barriers.”
Tuesday, March 24 | 7:30 P.M.
Trump Urges Congress to Take Action on Phase III Relief Package
As negotiations continued on Capitol Hill into Tuesday evening, President Trump and Director of the Economic Council Larry Kudlow strongly urged Congress to pass the Phase III coronavirus relief package during a press briefing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Kudlow announced it’s the single largest Main Street assistance program in the history of the U.S. and said the Treasury Exchange Stabilization Fund will have an oversight board tracking the funds going to distressed industries.
Here are some additional announcements from the Task Force:
- Trump wants to open up the country by Easter. He said a team of public health experts and economists are working on a plan for opening up the country when the time is right.
- The Task Force stressed very high concern for New York City, and asked for anyone who has traveled from NYC recently to self-quarantine for 14 days.
- Dr. Deborah Birx said the U.S. number of cases will continue to surge as we work through the backlog.
Tuesday, March 24 | 4:00 P.M.
Chamber’s Bradley on Bloomberg Radio: “Time is Not on Our Side”
Following President Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that he wants the country open by Easter, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley spoke with Paul Sweeney on Bloomberg Radio.
“Ultimately, we needed to be guided by the public health officials,” Bradley said. “It may mean some staggered openings or being able to re-open in some places before others, but wherever the health officials tell us it’s prudent, we can get back to work.”
Bradley urged Congress to stop the political fighting and pass the pending coronavirus relief package. “Time is not on our side on this,” Bradley said. “Capitol Hill is only making it more likely that people end up on unemployment.”
Tuesday, March 24 | 3:00 P.M.
Trump Wants America Open and “Raring to Go” by Easter
During a Fox News virtual town hall President Trump announced that he wants to see the country opened back up by Easter. He noted that people will need to continue to practice good hygiene and social distancing, but that the country needs to go back to work soon.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that as the country is nearing the end of its “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” the task force will make an informed decision on what to do next.
Here are more key takeaways from the town hall:
- Trump remained confident that the third coronavirus relief package will pass the Senate soon.
- Vice President Mike Pence announced that the federal government sent 2,000 ventilators from the national stockpile to New York and vowed to send 2,000 more on Wednesday.
- Dr. Deborah Birx said new self-swab tests will help free up more personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
Tuesday, March 24 | 12:30 P.M.
Chamber’s Bradley on Fox Business: “One Size Fits All is Not a Great Policy”
Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley joined Stuart Varney on Fox Business’ Varney & Co. earlier today to discuss the economy amid the coronavirus crisis.
“When it’s safe to get back to work, that’s exactly what we want to be doing” Bradley said. “One size fits all is not a great policy here. The great ingenuity about the American system is that there’s entrepreneurialism in localities all over the place. We ought to stick to that model. That’s what works.”
On the passage of the CARES Act, he added: “This package is absolutely essential and every hour we wait is an hour too long where we’re putting at risk millions of American workers.”
Monday, March 23 | 8:30 P.M.
Trump Says America Will Soon Be Back to Business
At a press briefing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Monday President Trump said he is looking at the next steps needed to get Americans back to work in areas that have not been as severely affected by the pandemic.
The Task Force again praised companies that have stepped up to donate or produce supplies, and Trump urged Congress to pass the current coronavirus relief package that provides funds for American workers and businesses.
Here are some additional announcements from the Task Force:
- Attorney General William Barr announced that the Department of Justice will be prosecuting fraudulent schemes related to the pandemic, like hoarding supplies and and price gouging.Trump invoked another section of Defense Production Act to deem certain items “scarce,” thereby making it a crime to hoard and price gouge.
- Vice President Mike Pence said self-collected nasal swab tests will become available this week. These will reduce the risk of exposing healthcare providers and don’t require the use of personal protective equipment.
Monday, March 23 | 6:00 P.M.
Chamber’s Bradley: “Defense Production Act Isn’t a Magic Wand”
Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley issued the following statement Monday concerning the Defense Production Act:
“The Defense Protection Act isn’t a magic wand to immediately solving medical supply shortages. It can’t produce highly specialized manufacturing equipment overnight. It can’t convert a refrigerator factory into a ventilator factory.
“The proponents of invoking the Defense Protection Act have not identified what problem exists that this law can solve. What is it that businesses are not already doing that the Defense Protection Act would compel them to do? The fact is American companies are working around the clock to support our country’s response to the pandemic. Companies that have the necessary expertise and infrastructure are working closely with all levels of government to get the products to those who need them most. A variety of manufacturers have risen to the task and suggested that their equipment can be reconfigured to produce medical equipment. The real challenge is that we need to produce sophisticated products that can’t easily be made without the right specialty equipment, which may not be readily available.
“The Defense Protection Act was designed for defense industry products with a single supplier, often with purely domestic production chains. Invoking the law may do more harm than good in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and medical equipment because it creates uncertainty and confusion for the companies now working day and night to make these needed supplies.
He added: “It’s time to get back to work on fighting this global pandemic.”
Monday, March 23 | 4:00 P.M.
Chamber Supports CARES Act to Keep Workers on the Job, Businesses Open
The Chamber on Monday released a statement praising and calling for swift passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“The U.S. Chamber believes Congress should continue to work together in a bipartisan manner to hash out any remaining details and pass this legislation promptly. We applaud Congressional leadership for including vital relief items to keep American businesses and families solvent and encourage swift passage of the CARES Act,” said Chamber CEO Tom Donohue.
The bill reflects the Chamber’s most vital policy recommendations, namely:
- Pausing the payment of payroll taxes, which will grant businesses relief so they have more cash to keep employees on their payrolls.
- Lending through the SBA and grants for small businesses that will enable this sector to endure through the crisis.
- Establishing a bridge loan facility that will enable businesses to continue to pay employees and provide essential operations for a time on far less, or no revenue.
Earlier on Monday, the Chamber sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to support the CARES act. Read the letter here.
Monday, March 23 | 10:30 A.M.
Fed Announces Emergency Measures to Boost Economy
The Federal Reserve on Monday announced aggressive emergency measures to ensure businesses, individuals, and local governments can get loans to hold them over until the economy bounces back.
“It has become clear that our economy will face severe disruption,” Fed leaders wrote in a statement. “The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support households, businesses, and the U.S. economy overall in this challenging time.”
The Fed committed to the following actions:
- Buying as many U.S. government bonds and mortgage-backed securities as needed to support smooth market functioning
- Supporting the flow of credit to employers, consumers, and businesses by establishing up to $300 billion in new financing
- Establishing two facilities to support credit to large employers
- Establishing a third facility to support the flow of credit to consumers and businesses
The Fed also said it expects to announce a Main Street Business Lending Program to support lending to eligible small-and-medium sized businesses, complementing efforts by the SBA.
Sunday, March 22 | 8:30 P.M.
Chamber Urges Immediate Adoption of Legislation to Help Workers, Businesses Impacted by the Coronavirus
Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley issued a statement Sunday urging Congress to adopt legislation to aid workers and businesses impacted by coronavirus.
“The latest proposal by Sen. McConnell and the administration would provide support for businesses of all sizes across all industries that have been significantly impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. The bill would help businesses stay open and pay their employees, reduce the potential of future layoffs, and ensure more hardworking Americans have access to their paychecks.
“Every hour that Congress delays action increases the risk that more businesses will shutter and more Americans will fall into unemployment. We can not and should not allow this to happen. We urge Congress to act in a bipartisan manner to work out any remaining differences on this legislation and pass the bill without delay.”
Sunday, March 22 | 8:00 P.M.
Trump Outlines New Efforts to Get Supplies to States
As the Senate fell short of the votes needed to pass the $1 trillion coronavirus relief package on Sunday evening, President Trump outlined the latest efforts from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
The President approved a major disaster declaration for Washington and said he would soon approve a request from California. This follows the same designation granted to New York on Saturday. FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said within 48 hours, thousands of tons of medical supplies will arrive in California, New York and Washington, and FEMA is fully funding National Guard units in those three states.
Here are some additional announcements from the Task Force:
- Trump praised the support of the private sector and announced Honeywell will begin producing personal protective equipment and n95 masks for the U.S. stockpile.
- Trump announced a consortium including IBM, the Energy Department national laboratories, Google, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Corp. and others, is working on discovering new treatments and vaccines.
- Vice President Mike Pence announced that more than 254,000 Americans have been tested for coronavirus, with around 30,000 testing positive. Pence also announced the previous backlog in testing should be caught up by mid-week.
Saturday, March 21 | 3:00 P.M.
Trump Praises Creativity of Businesses Stepping Up to Make Supplies
At a press briefing with members of the Coronavirus Task Force on Saturday President Trump repeatedly praised companies across the U.S. that are switching their manufacturing capabilities to produce needed medial supplies, or donating supplies they have.
Trump said Hanes will produce masks for medical use, alcohol distilleries are making hand sanitizer to ship to high-need areas, General Motors will help manufacture ventilators, and Apple donated two million industrial masks.
The President also announced he had invoked the Stafford Act to declare a major disaster in New York and was considering a declaration for other areas. The act allows FEMA to assist state and local governments in national catastrophes.
Here are some additional announcements from the Task Force:
- FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center is now processing all requests for medical supplies, and prioritizing accordingly.
- Congress is expected to pass the pending third relief package on Monday, which will provide relief to small businesses and industries.
- The Task Force urged people to postpone elective surgeries and reminded that not everyone with symptoms of coronavirus needs to be tested. These actions are essential for preserving medical supplies.
Friday, March 20 | 7:00 P.M.
Chamber Small Business Members Join Call with President Trump
On Friday more than 10,000 small business owners joined a call with President Trump, Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, and the President’s Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow.
President Trump said he hears the urgency from small businesses facing challenges during the coronavirus outbreak. He encouraged business owners to keep complying with public health advisories, keep their doors open, and reassured them that loans are available through the SBA and banks.
Administrator Carranza said the SBA is taking the following actions to eliminate red tape and get funds to small business owners:
- Making it easier for impacted small business to apply for an economic injury disaster loan of up to $2 million
- Signing disaster declarations for 45 states and Puerto Rico, with 50 states and all territories completed by Monday
- Deferring payments on economic injury loans for up to one year
- Offering flexibility and training to SBA contractors to manage small business portfolios
Secretary Scalia reassured small business owners that there will be a dollar-for-dollar tax credit to cover the cost of paid leave for employees, and the DOL is seeking input on how to implement the law.
Friday, March 20 | 5:00 P.M.
Chamber Weighs in on Senate “Phase III” Coronavirus Package, Calls for Loans for Mid-Sized Companies
On a call with reporters on Friday, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley detailed a proposal that would “fill the gap” left in the current Phase III package’s provisions for small businesses and large companies.
“It’s really important as we think about America’s workforce that if we want to prevent the mass dislocation of employees, that we have some type of support mechanism to help employers continue to pay employees, even if they have a headcount of, say, 600 employees or 1,500 employees,” Bradley said.
The policy proposal suggests that the federal government provide guaranteed loans to companies with more than 500 employees who’ve seen a revenue loss of 10% or more as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
“As an incentive, employers who maintain at least 90% of their headcount on their payroll could receive 10% of the loan in the form of forgiveness at the end of the term,” Bradley said.
The Chamber sent a letter to Congress Friday encouraging this expedited liquidity to help a broader range of businesses support their employees as they cope with the economic effects of the pandemic.
Click the links below to read press coverage from today’s call:
Friday, March 20 | 3:30 P.M.
Trump Extends Tax Filing Deadline to July 15
At a press briefing with members of the Coronavirus Task force on Friday President Trump announced the Treasury Department is moving Tax Day to July 15, giving Americans an additional three months to file their tax returns.
Here are some additional announcements from the Task Force:
- President Trump announced that the Department of Education is not enforcing K-12 standardized testing this year and will allow federal student loan borrowers to suspend payments for at least 60 days without penalty.
- The U.S. and Mexico agreed to shut down the border but said trade and commerce will not be impacted.
- The Department of Homeland Security announced that for public health reasons no illegal immigrants will be allowed to stay in border facilities and will be returned to their home countries.
- President Trump said he has invoked the Defense Production Act and will work with businesses to make needed medical supplies.
Friday, March 20 | 2:30 P.M.
U.S. Chamber Backs Bridge Loans to Keep Businesses Operating, Employees on Payrolls
While the third coronavirus response package, the CARES Act, will provide much needed relief for small businesses and the hardest hit industry sectors, it fails to take care of the 68 million American workers that are employed by enterprises with more than 500 employees.
The Chamber on Friday called on Congress to build on the Senate’s small business proposal for America’s larger employers but with much less generous terms, via a “bridge loan.”
The “bridge loan” program should consist of:
- Federally guaranteed loans: Companies with more than 500 employees that have seen a revenue loss of 10% or more as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak based on the creditworthiness of the company in January 2020 would be eligible.
- Maximum loan amount: Three months of payroll expenses (including pro-rata healthcare expenses).
- Repayment: Loans would be repayable over five years.
- Employee retention incentive for severely impacted employers: Employers with more than 25% loss in revenue that maintain at least 90% of the employees at existing pay levels through December 2020 would have 10% of their loan forgiven. However, there are other improvements that need immediate attention to provide expedited liquidity to help all businesses cope with the economic effects of the pandemic.
- Backing: These loans would be issued by financial institutions through a credit facility administered through the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Friday, March 20 | 2:00 P.M.
U.S. Chamber Urges State and Local Governments to Follow DHS Guidance on Essential Workforce
The U.S. Chamber today sent a letter to the National Governors Association Chair Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) and Vice Chair Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), praising work being done to combat the coronavirus pandemic and support families and businesses, while also urging state and local governments to issue guidance that aligns with the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.
“We must find the right balance so that essential critical infrastructure workers can continue to support public health and safety, as well as the economic and national security of the U.S.,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas J. Donohue.”
Friday, March 20 | 11:00 A.M.
Chamber Supports Call for Study on Medical Product Supply Chains
The Chamber’s Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley issued a statement Friday supporting the call for a report on the security of the U.S. medical product supply chain.
“The Chamber applauds Leader McConnell and other authors of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act for including a mandate for the National Academies to issue a report on the security of the U.S. medical product supply chain. As proposals circulate to impose new domestic production mandates on manufacturers of medicines and medical equipment in the midst of the present national emergency, a closer examination of the issues is clearly needed.”
Friday, March 20 | 9:00 A.M.
Chamber Supports Keeping Financial Markets Open
The U.S. Chamber on Friday partnered with several trade associations to state the importance of keeping U.S. financial markets open.
“The U.S. financial markets are critical infrastructure to our nation, and they continue to function as designed despite the volatility caused by the coronavirus. Keeping all U.S. financial markets open is essential to the well-being of the general economy and vital to maintaining and bolstering investor confidence, particularly once the economy recovers from effects of this pandemic.”
Partnering trade associations include:
- Managed Funds Association
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association
- American Cotton Shippers Association
- Commodity Markets Council
- International Swaps and Derivatives Association
- Investment Company Institute
Thursday, March 19 | 7:00 P.M.
Senate Republicans Release Coronavirus Package
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a proposed economic package this evening to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
- It includes direct payments of $1,200 to individual Americans making less than $75,000 annually.
- It also includes federally guaranteed loans for small businesses, moving back the income tax-filing deadline to July 15, and financial support for hard-hit industries.
Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, and the Trump administration will now begin talks to hammer out an agreement. Sen. McConnell has stated the Senate will stay in session until a deal is reached. “We need to take bold and swift action as soon as possible,” he said. “The Senate is not going anywhere until we take action.”
Read more in Politico.
Read the bill text.
Thursday, March 19 | 6:00 P.M.
Chamber’s Bradley on Bloomberg TV: “Time is of the Essence”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley joined “Bloomberg: Balance of Power” anchor David Westin earlier today to discuss Washington’s response to the coronavirus and important actions needed to help businesses support their employees.
“We need Congress to do something that has maximum flexibility, that is pretty simple to enact, and allows the Treasury and the Fed and other federal agencies to basically build it as we go,” Bradley said. Watch the full interview on Bloomberg TV here.
Thursday, March 19 | 4:30 P.M.
Chamber Releases “How to Support Local Businesses” Guide, New Customizable Flyer
The U.S. Chamber on Thursday released a new “How to Support Local Businesses” tip sheet, outlining steps every American can take to support small and local businesses that are facing significant disruptions or closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Right click to download and share the graphic above and click here to find additional digital resources.
Earlier, the Chamber released a new, customizable Coronavirus business health and preparedness flyer, which companies can use to show employees and customers that they adhere to CDC health and safety best practices. Click here to customize, download and print your own branded flyer.
Thursday, March 19 | 3:45 P.M.
FDA to Fast Track Antiviral Therapies and Coronavirus Vaccine
On Thursday members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force held a press briefing. Here are some key announcements:
- FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn announced there are two antiviral therapies in clinical trail that could mitigate the symptoms of coronavirus in patients while a vaccine is being fast-tracked. The FDA will allow doctors to use these therapies while they pending approval through “compassionate use.”
- President Trump announced that a change he signed into law yesterday now allows suppliers like Honeywell and 3M to sell all of their supply of masks to hospitals.
- President Trump commented briefly on the third coronavirus relief package currently being discussed, saying he would be okay with conditions that restrict companies from using funds for stock buybacks, and the package would help the travel and airline industries and small businesses.
- Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged millennials and Generation Z to consider donating blood to help patients.
Wednesday, March 18 | 6:00 P.M.
Chamber Calls on Trump to Clarify Essential Businesses and Services
U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue sent a letter to President Trump recommending that the administration clarify what constitutes ‘essential infrastructure’ and ‘essential businesses and services’ as state and local governments roll out mandatory business closures.
“It is important that these orders do not inadvertently harm businesses and services that support the essential infrastructure needed to successfully combat this pandemic,” Donohue wrote, adding in his letter a list of sectors that should be considered “essential.”
Wednesday, March 18 | 4:00 P.M.
Chamber Applauds Passage of Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On Wednesday, President Trump signed into law a multibillion-dollar emergency aid package to help American impacted by the coronavirus. The package includes paid leave benefits, unemployment benefits, free coronavirus testing, and food and medical aid to people impacted by the pandemic. It is the second such legislative package passed by Congress to address the outbreak. Read more in Politico.
The Chamber sent a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday urging them to support the legislation. In response to the news of its passage, U.S. Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued a statement that read, in part:
“The Chamber applauds congressional leaders for moving quickly to pass a strong, bipartisan coronavirus response package that will provide immediate relief to American workers and families during this unprecedented time. We strongly urge the administration and Congress to now turn their attention to supporting America’s employers.”
He added: “No family or business should go bankrupt because of the unexpected financial hardships caused by the coronavirus.” Click here to read the full statement.
Wednesday, March 18 | 1:00 P.M.
President Trump Announces Efforts to Ramp Up Availability of Supplies and Tests
On Wednesday members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force held a press briefing. Here are some key announcements:
- President Trump said he is prepared to invoke the Defense Production Act to expand the supply of ventilators and masks if needed.
- The U.S. and Canada mutually agreed to close down the border on Wednesday, but Trump said trade between the two countries will not be affected.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending evictions and foreclosures until the end of April.
- The Department of Defense is helping provide hospitals with essential supplies, and DOD labs have been processing tests from across the country. Two military hospital ships are being prepared to be stationed in New York City and the West Coast.
- The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing new regulations that will allow doctors to practice across state lines, and new guidelines to providers on how to help conserve supplies.
- The administration is taking steps to expand testing capacity, including working on a self-swab test currently being evaluated for accuracy and increasing the number of tests through partnerships with commercial labs around the country.
Tuesday, March 17 | 6:00 P.M.
President Trump Announces 90-Day Delay of Tax Payments, Additional Actions
President Trump on Tuesday announced that American taxpayers and businesses will be able to defer making any payments owed to the Internal Revenue Service for 90 days. Individual taxpayers can defer payments of up to $1 million, and corporations can defer payments of up to $10 million, without interest or penalties.
The announcement came along with several other updates and proposals presented by members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, all aimed ensuring families and businesses have enough cash to stay afloat. Read more from The Washington Post.
The proposals are part of a roughly $850 billion economic stimulus package that also includes free coronavirus testing for those who need it, paid sick leave and family medical leave for workers affected by the virus, and steps to try to get small businesses the support they need.
Other announcements from the Task Force included:
- Vice President Mike Pence urged construction companies to donate their inventory of n95 masks to local hospitals and forgo any additional orders.
- Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Seema Verma announced a dramatic expansion of telehealth services will be available for Medicare beneficiaries, the population most impacted by coronavirus.
- Trump announced that he met with executives from the fast food industry Tuesday and discussed the importance of the expanding drive-through and delivery models for food chains.
Tuesday, March 17 | 8:30 A.M.
Administration Calls for $850B in Emergency Stimulus
The Trump administration is reportedly asking Congress to approve a massive economic stimulus package of around $850 billion to blunt economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to sources cited by The Washington Post.
“The package would be mostly devoted to flooding the economy with cash,” The Post reports, including a payroll tax cut or other mechanism, with around $50 billion directed specifically to support the airline industry.
The Chamber a day earlier called on the administration and Congress to cancel the payroll tax through May among a series of proposals meant to support businesses and workers.
Read more in The Washington Post.
Monday, March 16 | 5:00 P.M.
Chamber’s Bradley on CNBC: “No family and no business should go bankrupt”
Today, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley joined CNBC to discuss several critical policy recommendations the Chamber proposed earlier in the day. The recommendations are intended to help American businesses of all sizes sustain the funds necessary to pay workers and stay afloat.
On a call with reporters earlier in the day, Bradley added:
“No family and no business should go bankrupt just because of the temporary disruption in income caused by this outbreak. We know that in order to contain the spread of the virus that we’re having to reduce – and in some instances, halt – commerce, which means that revenue for businesses is forgone.”
He continued: “The most important thing that we can do with this moment to help employees is to help their employers have the resources to continue to support their employees during this time when they have no incoming revenue.”
The Chamber’s Vice President Tom Sullivan said getting money to small and medium sized enterprises is a top concern. “We’re calling on a nationwide designation that would immediately bypass the governor’s certification process, more quickly allow small businesses to apply, and allow SBA to get the money to the small businesses,” Sullivan said.
“Making these lending authorities for both small businesses and large businesses alike will give every business the opportunity to maintain the liquidity necessary to weather this downturn, no matter how deep or how long it is,” Bradley said.
Click the links below to read coverage from today’s call:
Monday, March 16 | 10:30 A.M.
Chamber Calls for Swift Policy Actions to Help Businesses and Workers
The U.S. Chamber on Monday sent a letter to President Trump and Congressional leaders calling for three immediate policy actions to help businesses and workers and mitigate lasting economic damage amid the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, the Chamber called for legislation that would:
- Cancel payment of all payroll taxes typically paid by employers for March, April, and May
- Expand and streamline loan programs for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees experiencing revenue loss as a result of the coronavirus
- Enable the creation of credit facilities to provide loans and loan guarantees to employers with more than 500 employees experiencing significant revenue loss as a result of the coronavirus
The letter outlined additional proposed actions identified by members through the Chamber’s recently formed coronavirus task forces.
Sunday, March 15 | 5:30 P.M.
Fed Slashes Interest Rates in Most Significant Move Since 2008 Financial Crisis
The Federal Reserve on Sunday cut its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to near zero and announced plans to boost bond holdings by at least $700 billion — part of an expansive emergency action in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The moves represent the most dramatic actions by the central bank since the 2008 financial crisis.
Read more from The Washington Post.
Saturday, March 14 | 8:00 A.M.
House Passes Coronavirus Relief Package; Chamber Responds
The House has passed a sweeping coronavirus relief package that would provide free coronavirus testing, provide two weeks of guaranteed paid sick leave and increased family leave to employees at most companies, and increased support for unemployment benefits, among other measures.
The House passed the bill 363-40 during the early morning hours on Saturday after President Trump publicly endorsed the package on Friday evening. Read more from Axios.
Before the bill’s passage last night, the Chamber sent a letter to Capitol Hill encouraging action to address the pandemic. In response to the news, U.S. Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley issued a statement that read, in part:
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds congressional leaders and the Trump administration for assembling a strong, bipartisan coronavirus response package that will provide immediate relief to American workers and their families.
“The Chamber supports providing paid sick leave to those directly impacted by a public health crisis like COVID-19 while also reimbursing small businesses for the unexpected financial burden. Further, an extension of unemployment insurance benefits will provide much needed financial relief to families across the country struggling to make ends meet.”
Friday, March 13 | 3:30 P.M.
President Trump Declares State of Emergency
President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak, opening more federal aid for states and municipalities across the country — a rare but not unprecedented move in response to a public health crisis.
The move allows the administration to provide emergency funding to state and local governments.
Specifically, for example, states will be able to request a federal cost-share for expenses like emergency workers, medical supplies, vaccinations, and more. The declaration will also help expand capacity at hospitals and reduce other health regulations that could slow action, the president said.
Read more from USA Today.
Thursday, March 12 | 9:05 P.M.
Chamber Comments on Coronavirus Relief Bill
While acknowledging “the need to address larger issues related to paid sick leave,” the U.S. Chamber today urged Congress not to attempt to mandate a “one-size-fits-all” paid sick leave policy as part of a coronavirus relief package.
“This emergency bill should not create a federal, one-size-fits-all, permanent leave mandate on employers,” Neil Bradley, U.S. Chamber EVP and Chief Policy Officer, wrote in the letter to Congress. “Those are longer term issues that should be addressed in separate legislation, and we intend to be helpful in seeking a solution to that issue.”
Wednesday, March 11 | 9:27 P.M.
President Trump Announces Europe Travel Ban, Economic Policy Actions
President Trump on Wednesday announced that all travel from Europe to the United States will be suspended for the next 30 days, with the exception for the United Kingdom.
The rule takes effect Friday at midnight, and there will be certain exemptions made for select Americans “who have undergone appropriate screenings,” President Trump said. The president also:
- Announced that the administration will provide financial relief for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others who have contracted the virus.
- Announced that private health insurers will halt copayments for testing and help expand coverage related to the coronavirus
- Called on Congress to increase funding for SBA small business loans by $50 billion to help companies in impacted regions
- Pledged to take actions that will inject more than $200 billion of liquidity into the economy through tax and payment deferments for people and businesses impacted by the outbreak
- Urged Congress to cut the payroll tax
Monday, March 9 | 1:00 P.M.
Chamber Supports Federal Reserve’s Coronavirus Actions
U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue on Monday commended the New York Federal Reserve for injecting cash into the lending market, saying in part: “The Chamber applauds the Federal Reserve’s guidance to banks on how to work with customers, and the New York Federal Reserve injecting cash in lending markets. These common-sense solutions will help ensure economic resilience as we navigate the economic headwinds created by the Coronavirus.”
Friday, March 6 | 2:45 P.M.
Chamber Launches Coronavirus Member Taskforces
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched four new task forces to prepare business for the potential long-term economic impacts of the coronavirus. The groups will focus on:
- Employee Support: How to assist individuals who are unable to earn their normal income for a sustained period.
- Business Operational and Revenue Disruption: How to assist businesses, including through regulatory relief, who are closed or experience significant revenue disruption.
- Supply Chain and Trade Disruption: How to manage and mitigate supply chain and trade disruptions.
- Small and Medium Enterprises: How to address the unique needs of small and mid-size businesses.
Friday, March 6 | 10:00 A.M.
Congress OKs, President Signs $8 Billion Emergency Coronavirus Funding Package
President Trump has signed an $8 billion emergency funding package to combat the coronavirus outbreak. The Senate passed the bill 96-1 on Thursday after the House had approved it 415-2 on Wednesday. The bill includes:
- $3 billion for developing treatments
- $2.2 billion for public health measures to help prevent or slow the spread of the virus
- More than $1 billion to be sent overseas
Wednesday, March 4 | 1:00 P.M.
Chamber, Top Business Associations: Prepare, Don’t Panic
At a press conference this morning, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue and leaders from some of the nation’s top business leaders urged businesses and the public to take necessary precautions — but not to panic — in response to the coronavirus.
“Now is not the time to panic,” Donohue told dozens of reporters in the room. “Fear and panic undermine our ability to contain the virus, minimize disruptions to daily life, and keep our economy humming along.” He added: “Americans should continue to monitor the situation, but feel confident as they go about their daily lives, head to work, conduct meetings, or drop their children off at school.”
Monday, March 2| 10:00 A.M.
Chamber Foundation Publishes Resources Informed by CDC Guidance
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has released Coronavirus guides for employers and employees based on information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Click below to access the materials:
For more information, visit the CDC’s Guidance for Businesses resources page.
February 26 | 3:36 P.M.
Chamber Calls on Administration to Appoint Coronavirus Czar, Provide Data-Based Guidance
U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue on Wednesday urged the administration to appoint a czar to coordinate a holistic government response to the Coronavirus outbreak, saying: “At this critical time, we need clear accountability and data-based guidance so the public and American businesses can take the proper precautions to mitigate the impact. We encourage Congress and the administration to provide all necessary support to contain the spread of the virus.”
UPDATE: President Trump on Wednesday evening appointed Vice President Mike Pence to coordinate the government’s response to the coronavirus. Read more from CNBC.
February 24 | 3:36 P.M.
Chamber CEO Donohue on Closing Bell: Be Prepared, Don’t Panic
U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue joined “Closing Bell” this afternoon to discuss the state of the economy and business amid the coronavirus outbreak and his recommendations for the business community. Watch the full interview on CNBC here.