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Coronavirus relief bill includes industry-impacting provisions

By |  July 30, 2020
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With Congress recessing every August, legislators are pressed with coming to terms on the next round of stimulus. Photo: P&Q Staff

Senate Republicans released details about the HEALS Act, their latest stimulus bill that includes liability, workforce, and financial and unemployment reforms.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reacted warmly to the bill.

“Senate Republicans have crafted a relief measure that includes a number of vital provisions that will allow hard-hit construction firms to begin rebuilding their businesses and payrolls,” says Stephen Sandherr, CEO of AGC. “Among the most promising of these provisions are liability reforms so construction firms that are protecting workers from the coronavirus will not be subjected to needless litigation. The proposal also includes important improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program and a much-needed expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit, both of which will help protect construction jobs.”

According to Sandherr, the HEALS Act takes  a more thoughtful approach than the existing federal unemployment insurance benefit by protecting unemployed workers without creating artificial barriers to returning people to good-paying jobs in sectors like construction.

“The ambitious workforce development provisions in this measure have the potential to help millions of unemployed prepare for new careers in middle-class professions like construction,” Sandherr says.

The HEALS Act, however, has its flaws, AGC says. The association, for example, is troubled by a virtual lack of funding for new infrastructure improvements in the bill.

“State transportation officials are coping with a $37 billion funding shortfall, declining revenues and the uncertainty that comes with the Sept. 30 expiration of the existing highway and transit law,” Sanderrr says. “Additionally, public school, health and broadband infrastructure need federal investment to meet the challenges of operating during and after the pandemic.

“Ultimately, such new investments are essential to sustaining and rebuilding the American economy, which is why we will work to ensure they are ultimately included in a final relief measure,” he adds.

Carly McFadden

About the Author:

Carly McFadden is associate editor at Pit & Quarry. She is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and a native of Cleveland, Ohio. McFadden can be reached at cmcfadden@northcoastmedia.net.

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