ASAE continues to press Congress to support an expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to include 501(c)(6) associations in the new COVID-19 relief package currently being negotiated.

Democratic leaders and White House officials are reportedly far apart on the size and scope of the package, but there are also developments since last week’s introduction of the Senate GOP HEALS Act that are concerning to ASAE. Yesterday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) filed an amendment to Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) PPP expansion bill that would lower the employee cap for eligible 501(c)(6) organizations from 300 employees to 150 employees or fewer. By contrast, the House-passed HEROES Act would open PPP eligibility to all 501(c) organizations with 500 or fewer employees.

Rubio also filed a separate amendment this week to prohibit the use of loan proceeds for “lobbying activities.” The amendment expressly prohibits “expenditures designed to influence the enactment of legislation, appropriations, regulation, administrative action, or Executive order proposed or pending before Congress or any State government, State legislature, or local legislature or legislative body.’’ This provision would apply to all PPP loan applicants, not just 501(c)(6) organizations.

ASAE is also seeking changes to the lobbying restriction language in the Rubio bill that prohibits access to the PPP for any 501(c)(6) that “receives more than 10 percent of its receipts from lobbying activities,” or whose “lobbying activities comprise more than 10 percent of the total activities of the organization.” ASAE finds the language vague in terms how “lobbying activities” and “receipts” would be defined and is concerned that the provisions could exclude many associations, chambers of commerce and others from receiving the critical financial aid they need to survive through the pandemic.

ASAE staff remains in discussion with key congressional offices about these restrictions, and encourages ASAE members who are concerned about the language to write their legislators directly through ASAE’s grassroots portal.