WASHINGTON — With national leaders debating further economic response as COVID-19 stretches deeper into the year, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) is calling for additional federal aid.
"We know there's a lot of interest. We've had a lot of calls, not only in our office, but also our headquarters office in Texas," Bob Redding, Washington representative for the ASA, said.
A high percentage of ASA members have taken advantage of the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is providing forgivable loans to businesses that meet certain criteria during the pandemic.
Lawmakers are now trying to agree to a next possible wave of economic stimulus, which could include additional help for businesses to help keep people employed as well as money for individuals and families.
The HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act — which would provide $3 trillion in economic aid for a second individual stimulus check, debt relief, student loan forgiveness, hazard pay, six more months of COVID-19 unemployment, housing and food assistance, etc. — was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 15, but Senate Republican leadership has not shown interest in entertaining the proposal in the form it passed the House.
Included in the bill are key provisions to strengthen the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program and the PPP that has continued to evolve in its implementation since initially established in March under the CARES Act.
The ASA sees merit in a new round of PPP funding "or something similar" to further help businesses, Mr. Redding said, or a proposal being touted by businesses called America's Recovery Fund that would provide additional aid.
"America's Recovery Fund would provide federal grants for operational expenses to help businesses reopen and stay open as they navigate a new normal," according to a website promoting the idea.
The ASA, Auto Care Association, International Franchise Association and Tire Industry Association are among 150 trade groups that make up the coalition of business groups promoting that idea.
The need for additional funding comes as the country moves deeper into the year while questions remain about the economy. Providing more assistance will help companies get back on track and help those who saw their growth plans derailed with the virus, Mr. Redding said.
"That would help you to regroup and still do it," he said. "You would not be able to do it today because you lost three months of significant income in this situation and you took a hit. You are gradually climbing back up, but you are not there yet. This would allow you do it sooner than later.
"What I'm talking about here is some type of additional program. There's a lot of additional ideas about this," Mr. Redding said.
A recent House Committee on Small Business meeting featured testimony from business owners showing the need for additional help during this crisis, he said.
"They were very clear that we need more money as far as another stimulus package dealing with small business," he said.
Surveys of ASA members conducted in April and May show a vast majority of respondents reporting they had applied for PPP funding. In addition, over 90% of those responding to a May 1 survey indicated they had been approved and received funding.