Congress is failing the small business community

Are you frustrated with the inability of Congress to pass legislation supporting small businesses during an unprecedented global pandemic?

Do you find it stunning that politicians are not taking swift action to keep businesses open so more jobs do not disappear?

Do you worry for individuals living paycheck to paycheck who might lose their jobs because pandemic mitigation measures are not being coupled with relief for small businesses?

Are you concerned that your small business or those which you support may not last through the winter?

Your frustration is warranted and the inaction of Congress is stunning. Your concern for businesses and individuals hanging on by a thread in part, because of the inaction of our political leaders, is justified.

Even during a pandemic, some politicians seem more absorbed with bashing one another than passing a stimulus package. During the campaign we were inundated with corrosive television commercials while Congress failed to act. Unfortunately for small businesses, political television spots do not pay salaries or the rent.

Even after the election, politicians seem more interested in hyperbole than passing legislation to keep businesses open and people employed. If Washington politicians are going to engage in ongoing political gamesmanship, they must also pass legislation that provides relief to the small business community.

Congress can start by passing legislation that allows small businesses to deduct the proceeds of PPP loans used to pay salaries and other business expenses. Based on the statements of bipartisan legislative leaders, this was the intent of Congress when the PPP loan program was established. Additional legislation is needed so small businesses can deduct salaries and other business expenses paid by PPP loans. Many businesses struggling to recover from the pandemic will suffer a tremendous setback in the event they are not able to take these deductions.

Congress must also immediately pass another stimulus package. Small commercial property owners must be provided relief when their small business tenants close or are unable to pay rent.

Local chambers of commerce and trade groups that have been there for small businesses must receive help now. These organizations support local communities. Their employees are important resources for their members. After being inexplicably excluded from the CARES Act, these organizations must finally be included in a federal relief package.

There's much more politicians can and must do to support small businesses and communities. They understand without swift action, more businesses will permanently close their doors and more jobs will be lost. They understand that communities will be devastated should small businesses be unable to make it through the pandemic. Politicians can already see the consequences of their inaction.

Congressional leaders must pass another stimulus and take further actions to support small businesses. Indeed, it is time that legislators sincerely dedicated to representing their constituents come to the table, negotiate and legislate. That is why they were sent to Washington.

• Elliot Richardson is co-founder and president of the Small Business Advocacy Council.

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