National Newspaper Association expressed its appreciation to members of Congress for moving quickly to adopt the $2 trillion Coronavirus Act, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that contains appropriations to help small businesses avoid bankruptcy.
NNA President Matt Adelman, publisher of the Douglas (Wyoming) Budget, said NNA’s community newspaper members were struggling to provide essential news coverage for their communities as the coronavirus epidemic has brought local economies to a standstill. He urged the federal government to move with haste to pump money into local Small Business Administration lenders so newspapers and their small business customers can keep their doors open and support their employees.
The bill, which is headed to the White House for signature following passage today in the House of Representatives, contains $367 billion in short-term loans that can be forgiven if a business is able to maintain its payroll. Other provisions that permit tax credits and delayed tax payments also are intended to give businesses some liquidity during the crisis.
“The tax provisions will be important as the year plays out,” Adelman said. “But tax credits are complex and not necessarily able to put money into our bank accounts today. We have hundreds of small newspapers which have been living on very thin margins for a long while, but they are devoted to their towns, which need them to maintain a sense of community. The sudden braking of the economy was enough to put many of them over the edge just when their towns need them most. They need operating cash right now.”
Members of the House flew into D.C. today, even clad in protective gear out of concern for exposure to the virus, so they could register a recorded vote if needed. The Senate worked around the clock earlier in the week to come up with a package that could pass muster with both sides of the aisle.
Adelman said many NNA members have been in conversation with their Congressional delegations throughout the week-long battle to get to consensus.
“We’re all working harder than we have ever worked and with less money. We appreciate that members of Congress stuck to their mission and got this package together, even with the threat of this invasive illness around them. This work is critical to the small businesses that support half of the American economy. To our members of Congress, we say, ‘Well done,’" Adelman said. “Now, after a bit of rest, they need to finish the one piece they did not accomplish — fixing the USPS Postal Service by providing an appropriation to keep universal service intact. Congress gave USPS a loan, but that is a burden that will fall upon small businesses that use the mail. We need to be able to focus on our own communities and our own missions and not be fearful of interruptions in mail service, particularly in rural areas.
“We give Congress an A on all of its work but the USPS piece. On that, we are assigning an ‘incomplete.’ Rest up, Congress, and then please get back to work.”
– By TONDA RUSH, director, NNA public policy and general counsel