Senators Burr & Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Small Business Support Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Legislation would allow small employers to utilize both federal programs created under CARES Act to help provide wages, health care to employees

Today, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced bipartisan legislation to expand small business and non-profits’ access to federal COVID-19 relief. The bipartisan Employer Assistance Coordination Act would allow eligible small employers to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program and claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help keep workers on payroll and pay for their health care coverage. Currently, small employers cannot participate in both of these programs.

“Small businesses across the nation continue to face unprecedented challenges,” said Senator Burr. “One way we can help is by giving eligible small businesses and non-profits the ability to retain their employees and continue to provide health care coverage. That’s why I’m proud to work with Senator Hassan on this legislation, which will improve the coordination between these two existing programs and help Main Street businesses overcome this economic uncertainty.”

“I’ve heard from business owners across New Hampshire who are doing everything that they can to survive,” said Senator Hassan. “It’s clear that they need additional support to stay afloat and keep their workers employed. This common-sense bill builds on existing federal programs and will help small employers save jobs — and I will push for it to be included in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package.”

The federal CARES Act created two major programs to assist small employers in retaining their employees: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). The PPP provides forgivable loans through the Small Business Administration to cover 8 weeks of payroll and other expenses. The ERTC provides a fully refundable tax credit to cover 50 percent of the first $10,000 in wages and certain health plan costs for each employee.

Currently, businesses and non-profits can only participate in one of the programs, but the Employer Assistance Coordination Act enables small employers to participate in both of them. The bill includes rules to prevent “double dipping,” so that employers cannot use funds from both programs for the same costs.

The Employer Assistance Coordination Act is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

You can read a one-pager on the bill here.