House Democrats’ newest coronavirus relief proposal would allow influential Washington lobbying groups — funded by deep-pocketed corporations — to access forgivable small business loans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled Democrats’ $3 trillion relief package Tuesday. The bill would provide nearly $1 trillion in relief to states, cities and tribal governments and authorize a second round of direct payments to American families. But buried in the 1,815-page bill is a provision that allows trade associations, unions and 501(c)(4)s, not just charities, to access coveted small business loans.
The bill sets aside a portion of small business loans specifically for nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees. The Democratic Policy Center, a progressive group that opposes government assistance to lobbying groups, found that over 99 percent of trade associations and chambers of commerce have fewer than 500 employees. Some of the top lobbying spenders this cycle, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Realtors and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, could qualify for that pool of money, according to their most recent tax filings.
Most of these lobbying giants aren’t short on cash. The pharmaceutical industry’s top trade group brought in $459 million in 2018 and had over $43 million in the bank, according to tax filings.
Typically, these groups are going to funnel money to incumbents. So this legislation is sort of a way for politicians to bankroll their own campaigns indirectly on the taxpayer dime.