Legislative Updates

June 7, 2021

America Works Agenda Seeks to Expand Visas, Job Training and Access to Childcare

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation last week launched America Works, a new nationwide initiative mobilizing industry and government to swiftly address America’s deepening worker shortage crisis.

“As we stand on the cusp of what could be a great American resurgence, a worker shortage is holding back job creators across the country,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark said. “Together, we can and we must address our nation’s workforce challenges. When you lead the world in talent, you lead the world in solutions. With a highly skilled workforce, there’s nothing business cannot achieve and nothing we as a nation cannot do.”

Through the initiative, the U.S. Chamber is advocating for – and rallying the business community to push for – federal and state policy changes that will help train more Americans for in-demand jobs, remove barriers to work, and double the number of visas available for legal immigrants. And the U.S. Chamber Foundation is expanding its most impactful employer-led workforce and job training programs and launching new efforts to connect employers to undiscovered talent.

“This is Operation Warp Speed for Jobs,” Clark said. “We’re helping our members address the worker shortage by bringing the full strength of the Chamber’s advocacy muscle to this urgent crisis, expanding the Chamber Foundation’s most successful workforce programs, and mobilizing our nationwide federation of association and chamber partners to drive solutions that make America more competitive.”

An Urgent Crisis

New surveys and federal data analysis published today by the U.S. Chamber show that:

  • There are now half as many available workers for every open job across the country (1.4 available workers per opening) as there have been on average over the past 20 years (2.8).
  • In several states and industries—especially hard-hit sectors like education and health services as well as professional and business services—there are currently fewer job seekers than the total number of jobs open.
  • Ninety-one (91) percent of state and local chambers of commerce say worker shortages are holding back their economies. Eighty-three (83) percent of industry association economists say employers in their sectors are finding it more difficult to fill jobs than they were five years ago.

“The worker shortage is real—and it’s getting worse by the day,” Clark said. “American businesses of every size, across every industry, in every state are reporting unprecedented challenges filling open jobs. The worker shortage is a national economic emergency, and it poses an imminent threat to our fragile recovery and America’s great resurgence.”

Driving Policy Action

As part of the America Works Initiative, the Chamber is bringing the full strength of its unmatched advocacy muscle to this urgent challenge by introducing the America Works Agenda: a suite of legislative and regulatory solutions at the federal and state level that would eliminate barriers to work for Americans, invest in skills and job training and reform America’s broken, outdated immigration system.

Through the America Works Agenda, the U.S. Chamber is calling for:

  • Doubling the cap on employment-based visas, doubling the quota on H-1B and H-2B visas and implementing other reforms to the legal immigration system to help employers meet demand for high-demand jobs in labor-strapped sectors
  • Growing federal investments in employer-led job education and training programs
  • Expanding access to childcare for working parents

“We must arm workers with the skills they need, we must remove barriers that are keeping too many Americans on the sidelines, and we must recruit the very best from around the world to help fill high-demand jobs,” Clark said. “One solution or the other will not get the job done: Only by addressing all three challenges can we address our nation’s workforce challenges.”

Scaling Employer Solutions

The U.S. Chamber Foundation is expanding employer-led workforce and job training programs to help more businesses develop the talent they need and help more workers better prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

  • The Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management program – an employer-led job training initiative currently working with more than 2,000 employers in 37 states – will expand to a total of 42 states by 2023 and later this year will launch a new online learning platform to reach and support even more employers and education partners across America
  • The Foundation will soon launch a new initiative, the Jobs and Employment Data Exchange (JEDx), to modernize and streamline job postings, improve hiring data and analytics and arm workers with better employment and earnings records when applying for jobs

In addition, the U.S. Chamber Foundation is expanding its longstanding efforts to help employers recruit workers from important talent pools many overlook:

  • The Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, which has helped more than 600,000 veterans and military spouses secure jobs, will later this year launch a new program to help connect military veterans to high-demand careers in technology fields
  • In partnership with the Society for Human Resource Management, the Foundation is encouraging and arming businesses to become “second chance” employers by hiring ex-offender job candidates

These and other private sector solutions to help employers address their workforce challenges can be found on the new America Works digital hub at uschamber.com/work.

June 1, 2021

Chamber Shares Resources to Oppose Tax Hikes

Summarized from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

As you know, the Biden Administration is currently pursuing the largest tax increase in history to fund an ambitious agenda to massively expand the role and reach of government paid for by American job creators. This legislation – which is now being considered by Congress – will reverse the positive impact that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 had on the American economy before the pandemic. Lower taxes and smarter regulations remain key building blocks of a growing economy.

Over the Memorial Day recess, while your Representatives are in their home districts, we need your help reminding them to reject job-killing tax hikes. Click here to use the U.S. Chamber's one-click advocacy tool to prevent Congress from undermining our nation’s economic recovery.

Click here to view a one-pager from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Economic and Tax Policy Division which includes an overview on corporate tax rates, talking points and additional resources.

June 1, 2021

NAW Seeking Stories About How Distributors Benefit from Inventory Accounting Method

Summarized from Jade West, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

The NAW-led LIFO Coalition continues to work to ensure that a repeal of last in, first out (LIFO) inventory accounting is not included as a “pay-for” in tax or spending legislation. We have had numerous meetings with Democratic and Republican members of the tax-writing committees in the House and Senate and continue to get great feedback and reports that LIFO repeal is not being considered – or even discussed – as the tax bills develop in Congress. Some of the key Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee have long been, and continue to be, allies in our mission to protect LIFO, and we have been told anecdotally that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) has said he is also not considering LIFO repeal.

Despite the consistent and welcome good news, NAW and the coalition continue to work the issue. We are currently trying to identify House Democrats who do not serve on the tax-writing committee who would be willing to sign a joint letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) simply notifying her of their interest in protecting LIFO, so she is aware of the issue should it come up in later tax discussions. We are also working to build relationships with new members of Congress who are most likely not familiar with LIFO to provide them with background information on the accounting method. To that end, the coalition’s consulting firm, The Herald Group, has taken a LIFO chart and explanatory material prepared by one of the tax experts in the coalition and created a visual document explaining how LIFO works. Companies on LIFO clearly understand the issue in much greater depth, but we think this visual guide will be very useful in demonstrating LIFO as an essential business tool to members of Congress unfamiliar with inventory accounting methods. 

Finally, The Herald Group is always looking for good anecdotal stories from LIFO users on the importance of LIFO to their business, and we would particularly like to include on our coalition website any videos that businesses would be willing to provide, talking about their use of LIFO. If you would consider providing either a written or videotaped LIFO comment, please email Jade West at jwest@naw.org.

June 1, 2021

Chamber Urges Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill by Fourth of July

Summarized from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Bipartisan negotiations continue on a comprehensive infrastructure modernization plan. The Biden Administration and Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), have traded proposals. Both sides have committed to continuing discussions in an attempt to reach a bipartisan solution.

Last week, Senate Republicans unveiled their $928 billion infrastructure counteroffer to the Biden Administration. In response to the continued bipartisan discussions on infrastructure, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley released the following statement:

“Today’s counteroffer from Sen. Capito and Republican colleagues represents a good faith offer and is a significant step in the right direction. Discussions between the Biden administration and Congress must continue on a bipartisan basis. Recent success at the committee level, including yesterday’s unanimously approved surface transportation reauthorization bill and a bipartisan water bill that passed the Senate 89-2, are models for addressing our nation’s infrastructure needs. Fundamental, durable policy is not achieved when one political party pushes through legislation on their own. We urge continued bipartisan discussions so our nation’s infrastructure receives the modernization it desperately needs.”

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a $311 billion Highway authorization bill on a 20-0 vote. Once, transit and financing titles are provided, the full Senate will take up the measure. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to bring up its version of the bill in June. Federal Surface transportation programs expire Sept. 30, 2021.

The U.S. Chamber is committed to working with Congress to enact user-based funding and financing solutions without raising the corporate and/or international tax rate. To learn more about the U.S. Chamber's Build by the Fourth of July campaign calling on Congress to enact comprehensive, bipartisan legislation before the Fourth of July and ways to get involved, visit this page.

June 1, 2021

More than 30 Associations Have Joined Group to Oppose Tax Hikes

Summarized from Jade West, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

NAW and four allied business groups recently joined together to organize a new tax coalition – America’s Job Creators for a Strong Recovery – to respond to the Biden Administration’s proposed business tax increases. Like all NAW’s legislative coalitions, this one will lobby against the tax increases; however, this new coalition has a different primary mission: to work with consultants and a polling firm to try to shape public opinion on the tax hikes. President Joe Biden and his allies consistently argue that taxes should be increased on businesses and the “wealthy” because they don’t pay enough in taxes and should be required to “pay their fair share.”

Given that the average effective tax rate in distribution and several other industries has always been at or higher than the statutory rates, the “fair share” argument is a false narrative, but polls consistently show that voters believe it. The mission of our new coalition is to conduct public opinion surveys, determine if voters change their minds when given more – and more accurate – information, and mount a targeted media campaign to convince both voters and members of Congress to oppose the Biden tax increases.

We officially launched the coalition yesterday with more than 30 members, including FEDA, and conducted a webinar on our most recent polling data. The coalition continues to grow, and as you may have seen, has caught the attention of the media. Earlier this week there were several news reports on the coalition and NAW CEO Eric Hoplin did a Fox Business interview. Here are links to those press stories and Eric’s interview:

CNBC: Business groups form coalition to oppose all tax hike proposals by Democrats

Punchbowl News: New group opposed to any tax increase

Bloomberg News: Industry Groups Form Coalition to Fend Against Biden Tax Hikes

The Hill: Dozens of business groups unite in opposition to proposed Democratic tax hikes

Eric Hoplin interview on Fox Business: https://twitter.com/NAWorg/status/1397255099462868998
May 24, 2021

Employer Feedback Shows Pandemic Unemployment Benefit Hurting Jobs Numbers

Summarized from Jade West, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

As you know, the April jobs report was very disappointing, with only 266,000 jobs created, well below the estimated one million. President Joe Biden said in response that the pandemic unemployment benefit had no “measurable” impact on the low jobs number and that “people will come back to work if they are paid a decent wage.”

Employer comments in general and specific feedback we have received from NAW members all contradict the president’s assertions. And consistent with employer concerns about the pandemic unemployment insurance (UI) benefit, as of Mid-May 16 states have either terminated the extra payment or initiated steps to do so. Similarly, about half the states have begun to reimpose the “work search” condition for UI eligibility, and the President has asked the Department of Labor to review working with other states to do so as well.

In response to these actions, proponents of the extra UI payment are making the case that the pandemic payment should not be terminated and that the work search requirement should not be re-instated. In a May 13th commentary, the Century Foundation described the actions of governors to end the pandemic payments as “dereliction of responsibility” and “an affront to the workers in these states.” And yesterday the New York Times ran a story noting that the work search requirement “presents an undue hardship.”

UI proponents use stories of specific individuals whom they argue would be harmed by reform of the UI program to make the case against any changes in the policy, and they dismiss claims that the UI benefits create a disincentive for returning to work.

We need to fight this battle in a similar fashion and need specific examples of the UI benefit in fact making it difficult for employers to hire. Several NAW members have provided us with examples of job openings going unfilled, potential workers expressly turning down work because of the UI benefit, workers applying for work then not showing up for interviews or accepting jobs then not showing up for work. We have had the opportunity to share these stories (anonymously) with senators and House members, who use our anecdotes to make the case for reform of the programs.

If you have similar anecdotal stories, please share them with us by emailing Jade West at jwest@naw.org. They really do make a difference on Capitol Hill.

May 24, 2021

Group’s Mission to Resist Job-Killing Tax Increases

A group of associations – including FEDA – have come together to form a new coalition to oppose general tax increases on businesses. The newly-created America’s Job Creators for a Strong Recovery will work in Washington D.C. to coordinate business opposition to proposed tax hikes from President Joe Biden’s administration.

The coalition’s mission statement reads as follows: “America’s Job Creators for a Strong Recovery is a coalition of associations representing individual and family-owned businesses and corporations that oppose job-killing tax increases as the country looks to move past the COVID-19 pandemic. Tax increases on America’s job creators would stall the economic recovery rather than fuel it and counteract the economic benefits of smart infrastructure spending.”

The group differs from other business coalitions currently operating in the capitol because it opposes tax increases on businesses in general, rather than specific tax increases, such as corporate income tax rate hikes or an increase to international tax provisions.

May 24, 2021

Democrats and Republicans Question Wisdom of Proposed Tax Hike

Summarized from Jade West, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

As you all know, President Joe Biden has proposed two large spending proposals, one a traditional “hard” infrastructure bill and a second “social infrastructure” proposal. Both proposals would be “paid for” with significant tax increases on both C corporations and pass-through businesses.

A recent survey we conducted of NAW members shows that more than 70% support a traditional infrastructure bill, but that even larger majorities oppose increases in the corporate income tax rate or the individual tax rate that pass-through businesses pay – 76% and 91% respectively.

NAW is working with allies in the DC trade association community to support passage of an infrastructure bill, but to oppose the direct business taxes the President has proposed.

There are now indications that the magnitude of the Biden tax hike proposals – several trillion dollars – is causing both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill to question the wisdom of the plan. For example, the proposed changes to the estate tax – repeal of stepped-up basis on capital assets and taxation of unrealized capital gains at death – is getting particular scrutiny, as this story today in Bloomberg details.

Nevertheless, those advocating for enactment of all the Biden tax increases point to public opinion polls showing that there is broad support for increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy. But other recent polling shows that, when asked the direct question, most poll respondents say that the most anyone should have to pay in taxes is 25 percent. Clearly, both assertions cannot be correct.

In response, NAW is working with allied trade associations, consultants and a polling firm to organize and launch a new coalition. Learn more about the America’s Job Creators for a Strong Recovery coalition here.