Cassidy leads letter in seeking federal funds for Main Street trade groups

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) this week led a bipartisan contingent of U.S. senators in requesting that any forthcoming emergency spending package make local trade and professional associations eligible for federal assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Unfortunately, local trade and professional associations organized under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code are ineligible for assistance through the lending programs included in this legislation,” Sen. Cassidy and his colleagues wrote in an April 27 letter sent to congressional leaders in the Senate and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “Given the crucial role these organizations play in sustaining the Main Street economy, and the severe financial difficulties they are confronting, we strongly support their inclusion in the next round of federal aid for coronavirus relief.”

The lawmakers requested support for 501(c)(6) associations, which include regional chambers of commerce, nursing professional organizations, state-certified public accountant societies, state restaurant associations, and tourism and hospitality leagues, among others.

These organizations require revenue beyond annual member dues to make ends meet, particularly as they have had to postpone or cancel their conferences and education events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also has made contributions uncertain and strained funding to continue operations and maintain payroll, according to the lawmakers’ letter.

“To help local 501(c)(6)s meet their current obligations and continue assisting small businesses in our communities, we endorse expanding access to the Paycheck Protection Program in forthcoming legislation,” Sen. Cassidy and his colleagues wrote. “To ensure that local chambers of commerce and other 501(c)(6) organizations can continue to support small businesses at this precarious moment for our country, they need our help.”

Among the 16 senators who joined Sen. Cassidy in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Steve Daines (R-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Joe Machin (D-WV).