“This is a challenging time, and something I’ve never seen in my lifetime. This touches every family,” said Senator Tim Kaine during a video conference call with Virginia Chamber Executives.
“Business leaders are very interested in the discussion of a possible fourth stimulus package,” said Susan Spears, President of the Virginia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (VACCE). On Monday, April 6, 2020, Spears moderated a video conference call with Senator Tim Kaine. This special briefing was for Chamber members throughout the Commonwealth and covered pertinent information for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Congress has passed three bills to help protect the American economy during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Kaine. The first two bills passed were the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. The third and most recent legislative package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, consists of five pillars.
According to Senator Kaine, those five pillars are:
“The fourth stimulus bill will be trying to fix things we didn’t get right the first time,” said Senator Kaine. He told participants that members of Congress are actively communicating with their constituents and local Chambers to figure out what issues need to be addressed in the fourth aid package. Senator Kaine said, “We need your ideas to implement the bills we’ve passed in a smart way.”
Following Senator Kaine’s introductory remarks was a Q&A period with participants. One participant asked Senator Kaine what businesses can learn from the coronavirus pandemic from a crisis management perspective. He replied, “We may have to rethink the medical supply chain and start to think of it as a national security imperative.”
Frank Tamberrino, President and CEO of the Harrisonburg – Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, asked, “What can be done to include 501(c)(6) organizations in the next package?” Senator Kaine replied, “It is on the list of things to fix, to extend protections to 501(c)(6) organizations.” He said he would do what he can to make sure these companies are included in the fourth package.
One participant asked about what is being done to help localities experiencing tax and revenue losses. Kaine said, “In the fourth pillar of the CARES Act, there is grant money to support local and federal governments.” He said that budgetary issues were not explicitly addressed in the CARES Act but told those watching that Congress is working to address these issues in the fourth package.
Lisa Watkins, President of the Martinsville Henry County Chamber of Commerce, asked, “How can we streamline the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) process for business owners?” Senator Kaine said, “Figuring out a way to deploy $350 billion will require some patience.” He said there would be challenges but encouraged businesses to be patient and to reach out to local congress members if they are having problems.
Sharon Meyers, Director of Catering Sales, Marriott, asked, “What is being done to help the hard-hit hospitality industry?” Senator Kaine told Meyers that the federal government is working on to help larger businesses with offset wage costs. “The ability to go through the PPP or the Main Street lending program is what we are doing to help hospitality and larger businesses.”
Dr. Amir Zamani, of the Advance Dental Care Center, asked what the federal timeline is for opening businesses that are closed. Senator Kaine said, “There is not yet a federal guideline. The national guideline is going month to month. In Virginia, Governor Northam has anticipated a surge in COVID-19 cases for mid-May.” Senator Kaine said government officials are working together with the federal government to determine a proper date for businesses to return to regular operational schedules.
In closing, Senator Kaine thanked Spears and webinar participants for their time. “This is unprecedented,” he said. “The third bill was better than It would have been, had you not reached out to us." Senator Kaine encouraged people to visit his website at www.kaine.senate.gov or to call 202-224-4024 with any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19.
“Your chambers are here to connect you and be that voice of business during this incredible time,” ended Spears. “We are business strong, and chambers of commerce are here to help you.”