July 17 Eggs & Issues: Sen Johnson, Rep Kind, US Chamber weigh in on next federal relief bill
• Congress back in session on Monday with negotiations starting in earnest
• Johnson, Kind both earn US Chamber Awards
Several critical recovery issues are on the table in Washington with Congress gong back into session on Monday, July 20. Businesses are increasingly concerned about COVID-19 related liability, and programs like enhanced unemployment benefits about to expire, Congress goes back into session under pressure to negotiate the next federal relief package.
At the Eau Claire Chamber's Friday, July 17, Virtual Eggs & Issues program, US Senator Ron Johnson, Congressman Ron Kind, and US Chamber Vice President of Congressional Affairs Ron Eidschaug joined us to discuss what might be coming, and what's most important to the business community.
Above left: US Senator Ron Johnson recognized for US Chamber's "Spirit of Enterprise" Award
Pictured: Scott Rogers, Jennifer McHugh, Senator Johnson, Ron Eidshaug, Ethan Hellier (presenting 2018 Award)
Above right: Rep. Ron Kind recognized for US Chamber's "Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship"
Pictured: Scott Rogers, Jennifer McHugh, Rep. Kind, Ron Eidshaug
US Senator Ron Johnson
Senator Johnson expressed concerns about the overall cost of federal relief, its impact on the federal deficit, and the fact that as much as 40% of previously-approved relief has yet to be spent. He said he recognized the need to act quickly, but thought initiatives like the Paycheck Protection Program should have been more carefully structured to ensure that recipients truly needed the relief to stay in business. He did reiterate the need to take collective action to slow the spread of the disease and do what's necessary to keep the economy moving forward. The day before Eggs & Issues, he and former Governor Scott Walker penned an op-ed in the Cap Times encouraging bipartisanship and the wearing of masks.
Johnson said his top priority for the next phase of federal relief is to enact liability protections for businesses, schools, hospitals and others from nuisance lawsuits. He argued that those who responsibly follow health guidelines should be protected.
Congressman Ron Kind
Responding to the question of liability protection, Rep. Kind agreed that responsible businesses and organizations who do the right thing should have protection, and said that it is important to have objective standards for them to follow. Regarding the $600 supplemental unemployment benefits scheduled to expire at the end of July, he said ending them now would be too soon, but continuing through the end of the year would be too long. He suggested that he would favor some phasing out of the benefits based upon state unemployment rates and possibly back to work bonuses.
Kind also said he hopes some form of relief can be included for venues and festivals, who have the unique challenge of being among the first to close and last to open. He recognized the significant value they bring to a community like Eau Claire, and said that he has heard from venues across the country.
US Chamber recommendations
Ron Eidshaug, Vice President of Congressional Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce, also joined us for the full program and highlighted the comprehensive recommendations the US Chamber made in a letter on July 16 to Congress and the Administration. He pointed out that additional assistance is critical, but must be "timely, temporary and targeted." He said the US Chamber is recommending action in five areas, based upon detail input from industries and chambers across the country "on how to get their sectors and communities through the crisis."
1. Liability Protection Against Unwarranted Lawsuits;
2. Support for Small and Midsize Employers;
3. Support for Childcare and K-12 Schools;
4. Unemployment and Job Training, and
5. State and Local Assistance
Click here to read the Chamber letter with recommendations (18 pages)
Pictured l to r: Scott Rogers, Jennifer McHugh, Ron Eidshaug
US Chamber Awards to Johnson, Kind
Eidshaug also joined our Eggs & Issues hosts, Jennifer McHugh (Vice President of Community Engagement for Royal Credit Union and Chair of the Chamber's Governmental Affairs Committee) and Scott Rogers (the Chamber's Governmental Affairs Director), in presenting voting record awards to both Johnson and Kind for their support of business.
Senator Johnson - Spirit of Enterprise Award
Recognized for his voting record supporting policies that strengthen our economy and provide good jobs for American workers. (Overall Annual Score 77%, Legislative 89%, Leadership 21%, Bipartisanship 40%)
"Senator Johnson is someone we have worked with for a long time in terms of getting things done," said Eidshaug, "We've had a long history of working with some of the cyber issues and particularly the regulatory reform issues that are really important."
Congressman Kind - Jefferson-Hamilton Bipartisanship Award
Recognizes those members of Congress who in their actions have demonstrated a willingness to work across the aisle in support of common objectives. (Overall Annual Score 63%, Legislative 56%, Leadership 94%, Bipartisanship 96%)
Eidshaug particularly credited Rep. Kind with a key role in the passage of the US Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), a top 2019 legislative accomplishment for the business community.
“USMCA would not have gotten done without the work of Ron Kind. Full stop,” said Eidshaug. “He was leading that effort on trade, on this agreement, on other agreements for years.”
Click here for more information about the US Chamber's awards including full scorecards for the Wisconsin delegation and all members of Congress.
Wisconsin politicians discuss keeping the economy afloat as pandemic continues (WEAU 13 News)
Kind & Johnson discuss coronavirus relief at Eau Claire event (WQOW News 18)
Johnson, Kind talk COVID-19 aid (Eau Claire Leader-Telegram$)
Sen. Ron Johnson and Scott Walker: COVID-19 is not a partisan issue. Let's do what we can to stop the spread (Cap Times)
Mnuchin gives hints of PPP changes in next COVID-19 relief bill (Roll Call)
Battle over Covid aid consumes Congress' final sprint to recess (Politico)
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Posted by Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs and Workforce Director
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.