The National Association of Theatre Owners likes some of the elements of a coronavirus crisis relief package put forward by Senate Republicans because it includes employee assistance. business access to government-backed loans and tax postponement.
The $1 trillion legislation, introduced on Thursday, includes $1,200 cash payments to individual taxpayers up to $75,000, as well as hundreds of billions in loan guarantees and loans for small businesses and distressed industries.
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Theaters have had to grapple with widespread closures, as states restrict large public gatherings or, in the case of California and New York, impose stay-at-home orders.
“We particularly applaud the elements of phase III stimulus legislation that provide assistance to employees to help them weather this storm and that ensure access to capital while businesses are closed and unable to generate revenue while their expenses continue,” NATO said.
But the trade association also said that more needs to be done, as it called on Congress “to continue to develop and pass measures that provide direct relief to our 150,000 workers not covered by this legislation and the potentially millions of Americans like them to help them until this crisis has passed and they can return to work in the industries that this legislation helps keep whole.”
The current proposal offers small businesses interruption loans, giving them immediate access to credit, as well as loan guarantees for distressed sectors of the economy. For large businesses, those loans would be set up by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is a former film financier.
NATO also singled out other elements of the legislation, including deferring of employer payroll taxes and a more advantageous way to carry forward business losses.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he would like to see a procedural vote on the legislation by Saturday evening.
Democrats want the bill to include much greater unemployment benefits and a host of other measures.
A group of House lawmakers, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), are seeking relief to freelance and contract workers in the industry who don’t have a traditional, full-time employer-employee relationship.
On Thursday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the GOP proposal, on first reading, “is not at all pro-worker and instead puts corporations way ahead of workers.” Even some Republicans have said that the current proposal is insufficient. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said that the GOP proposal’s direct cash payments “penalizes” low-income families because recipients must reach a minimum income threshold.
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