May 16, 2022

Washington Wire: Next COVID Bill Still Under Negotiation


Next COVID Bill Still Under Negotiation  

The White House continued negotiating with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer over the next phase in the COVID-19 legislation. One Voice is actively lobbying leaders on Capitol Hill and senior staff at the White House to promote the priorities of our members as reported in our July 2020 survey. Many observers expect negotiators to begin making progress later this weekend with the hope of moving next week a measure that could cost between $1 trillion and $3.5 trillion.
One Voice is working with lawmakers to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and allow manufacturers to apply for a second loan. The associations are also lobbying to create a long term low interest government guaranteed loan program that allows manufacturers to use funds for raw materials, capital equipment, and other needs beyond payroll. One Voice’s top three tax priorities remain: to override the IRS Notice disallowing the deduction of expenses for those with a PPP loan that is forgiven; expand the Employee Retention Tax Credit to also include PPP recipients as eligible (currently receiving bipartisan support); and make General Business Credits immediately refundable with an advance on future credits to help manufacturers improve cash flow right now.
Workforce also remains a priority for One Voice even under COVID-19 as more than one-third of NTMA and PMA members reporting in the July survey that they are actively hiring. The associations are lobbying to increase resources for Career and Technical Education and online training, while also working to pass into law the College Transparency Act to inform borrowers about the potential financial burdens of only pursuing a four-year degree.



IRS Announces Rule Updating Small Business Taxpayer Exceptions
On July 30, the IRS sent out a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) updating several tax accounting regulations to adopt the simplified tax accounting rules for small businesses under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Of importance to One Voice members, the simplified tax accounting rules will increase the level of its “gross receipts test” which allows businesses to use the cash method of accounting.
Under the proposed rule, a business meets this test if its inflation-adjusted average gross receipts for the three-tax-year period ending immediately before the current taxable year do not exceed $25 million (adjusted for inflation to $26 million for tax years beginning in 2019 and 2020). Before the TCJA, the gross receipts test only applied if the business’s average annual gross receipts for all prior taxable years did not exceed $5 million.
This is a major victory for our members as One Voice lobbied extensively to the increase the $5 million level. Now that the rule is published in the Federal Register, the agency has started a 45-day public comment period ending on September 14.



EPA Plans to Apply Rule Eliminating the use of Secret Science to Several Environmental Statutes
With the EPA looking to finalize its Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule by the end of the year, at a recent event EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated the agency plans on applying the regulation to several environmental statutes through 2023. According to Administrator Wheeler, the agency will begin implementing the rule to major environmental statutes, including the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA).
The Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule requires the EPA to give preference to studies that only use publicly available data that can be retested and limits when regulators can rely on confidential studies, ending the practice of using “secret science.” Previously, EPA regulators would convene panelists to review proposed rules without disclosing the scientists advising on the action nor the “science” provided to support the rulemaking itself.
The rule is one of many ways the EPA has worked to change how it analyzes the benefits and costs of each rule. Once Voice recently signed on to comments in support of an EPA proposed rule codifying the practice of preparing benefit-cost analyses (BCAs) in the development of future significant CAA regulations.



Perkins Funding Bill for FY21 Passes in the House
On July 31, the House passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations minibus on a 217 to 197 vote. The FY21 bill (H.R. 7617) funds key workforce development and training programs, including the Perkins Basic State Grant. The legislation provides $1.3 billion in funds for the Perkins Basic State Grant, an increase of $18 million, or 1.4%, when compared to last year. In an effort to keep up with inflation, the bill increases the Pell Grant by $150, making the maximum award $6,495. In addition, $2.9 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Grants receive $2.9 billion, $50 million more than the level from the previous year. Finally, the bill provides an increase of $185 million for Registered Apprenticeships, an increase of $10 million.
The bill now heads to the Senate, which has yet to move on many of their federal funding appropriations bills because the chamber continues to work on another COVID-19 pandemic aid package. With the summer recess quickly approaching, the Senate likely will not get to funding bills until after the election. In that case, sources expect Congress to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep current funding levels until a final bill is passed. One Voice will continue updating its members and lobbying for passage of this legislation. Washington should support job training initiatives and programs that support in-demand jobs such as those in the manufacturing industry.



NLRB Announces Proposed Rule Ensuring Employee Privacy; Senate Confirms Two NLRB Members
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), restricting union access to employee email addresses and cellphone numbers just before elections. The proposed rule revokes the previous NLRB rule, requiring employers to disclose full contact information of their employees to unions well before representation votes. While One Voice supports the NLRB’s decision to protect employee privacy interests, the next Congress could repeal the rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) because it was issued within the last 60 days of a Congressional session. In addition to the NPRM, the Senate confirmed two Board members, ensuring a Republican majority into 2021.