December 9, 2022

Washington Wire: Updates to the PPP Loan Rules Issued


Updates to the PPP Loan Rules Issued  

President Biden has made several changes to the Paycheck Protection Program rules to expand access for minority-owned and very small businesses. Beginning on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, a 14-day exclusive window to apply for funding will open for businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
In addition, effective the first week of March, there will be changes to some eligibility rules in an attempt to provide funds to even more small businesses. The self-employed, sole proprietors and independent contractors will now have access to increased funds by allowing them to calculate their loan amounts based on gross income rather than net income. PPP loans will also be available small businesses owners with non-fraud related felonies, delinquent student loans, and noncitizen business owners who hold green cards or are in the country on a visa.
Congress included another round of PPP funding in the relief bill passed in December, with about half of the newly allocated funds remaining.



Executive Order on Supply Chains Expected
President Biden is soon expected to sign an Executive Order (EO) directing his administration to undergo a review of supply chains, with the aim of identifying any supply chain vulnerabilities for critical technology and materials. The 100-day review will focus on four key areas: semiconductor manufacturing, high-capacity batteries, medical supplies, and rare earth minerals.
The order will review threats to these supply chains due to pandemics, cyberattacks, and extreme weather events and identify the resiliency of the supply base. Within a year, agencies must submit a written report to the White House about these and other critical goods and the ability of the domestic industrial base to meet demand during a time of crisis.
This action focusses on these areas that are of national and economic security concerns, including with a focus not just on the crises of today but longer-term commercial advancements. While the examination of semiconductor and medical supply shortages are having real world impacts today, the focus on rare earth minerals and the types of batteries used in electric vehicles provides some insight into what the Biden administration sees not only as national security vulnerabilities but also economic opportunities.
This EO follows a related order released in January aimed at securing and strengthening COVID-19 supply chains. It is expected that these global supply chain reviews will continue under the Biden Administration, to ensure that the U.S. is not dependent on foreign suppliers, like China, for critical technologies and materials.



Biden Issues Order Canceling IRAPs
President Biden has issued an Executive Order reversing a 2017 EO from former President Trump launching industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs). The administration, instead, will focus on the registered apprenticeship model, such as programs included in the recently House-passed National Apprenticeship Act.
IRAPs, which One Voice has supported, allows industry groups such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills to develop programs and certify apprentices.
The Labor Department will “slow support” for IRAPs under the Executive Order by ceasing consideration of new or pending applications to serve as a third-party certification entity under the IRAP model, known as “standards recognition entities” (SREs). Biden also asked the Labor Department to consider issuing new regulations to reverse the 2020 final rule that established the IRAP model.
While the Administration is slowing support, the 27 SREs that were approved during the Trump Administration can continue to approve IRAPs. In addition, all IRAPs that were previously approved can continue to operate.



Interim Social Cost of Carbon Released; Administration Continues to Undo Trump Environmental Actions
The Biden administration continues to take steps during the first 100 days to undo many of former President Trump’s environmental actions. In a Federal Register Notice, published on February 19, 2021, the Council on Environmental Quality reinstituted the Obama administration’s estimate for the dollar cost to society of each ton of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
In his very first day in office, Biden issued an Executive Order reestablishing an Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (IWG) to release an interim updated social cost of carbon (SCC) estimate to guide federal policymaking over the course of the next year as well as a final number by the end of January 2022.
While the IWG did not issue an independent interim calculation for the SCC, the notice replaced Trump-era guidance of how National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and documentation should address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the SCC. This action returns the SCC to the Obama set estimate of around $50 per ton, significantly higher than the Trump administration’s estimate of as low as $1 per ton. Sources indicate the Biden Administration may issue a level over $100 per ton, allowing them to more easily justify restrictions placed on emissions.
The SCC is just one of many Trump-era environmental actions that the Biden Administration is looking to undo. The administration has asked courts across the country to freeze litigation over those rules issued by Trump that it wants to revisit. However, a judge the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia declined to pause a lawsuit over the CEQ’s NEPA rule. The NEPA overhaul, finalized in July 2020, changed how federal agencies conduct environmental impact reviews. While the Biden administration is not expected to defend the Trump rule in court, it is unclear if they will take action to rewrite the rule before a final court decision.



USTR to Make No Changes to Tariffs in Section 301 Boeing-Airbus Dispute
As part of a mandatory periodic review of the tariffs in the action involving the enforcement of U.S. WTO rights in the Large Civil Aircraft dispute, commonly known as the Boeing-Airbus dispute, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced their intention to not make any revisions to the tariffs at this time. USTR, along with the affected U.S. industry have agreed that a revision to the tariffs is not necessary at this time. One Voice continues to lobby against the imposition of tariffs on copper-based alloys as part of the Section 301 investigation as USTR undergoes additional periodic reviews of the trade action.