Congress Addresses 501(c)(6) Needs in Year-End COVID-19 Stimulus Package

After months of advocacy by ASAE and several other associations, Congress passed a COVID-19 stimulus package that finally expands eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program to include 501(c)(6) organizations that meet certain qualifying conditions.

Following sustained advocacy from ASAE and numerous other associations, Congress passed year-end legislation that finally expands eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to include 501(c)(6) organizations that meet certain qualifying conditions.

ASAE applauds lawmakers for recognizing the extreme financial hardships endured this year by associations and other 501(c)(6) organizations as a result of COVID-19, and thanks its legions of grassroots advocates who shared their own organizations’ struggles with their elected officials to increase awareness and support for much-needed federal relief.

In addition to numerous other provisions, the roughly $900 billion bill includes $325 billion in small business relief, including $257 billion for the PPP, and expands PPP access to include 501(c)(6) organizations with 300 or fewer employees; 15% or less in lobbying activities and receipts; and less than $1 million in spending for lobbying activities. As this legislation came together, ASAE was in regular contact with key congressional offices to improve emerging bill text that included employee and lobbying caps for 501(c)(6) entities—and remains hopeful that Congress will expand PPP eligibility conditions further in the 117th Congress. The $1 million restriction is particularly problematic for many associations and something ASAE opposed vigorously.

“ASAE recognizes that this legislation came together only as a result of bipartisan compromise and congressional leaders were forced to accept a deal both parties described as imperfect to produce emergency relief measures for a nation in acute crisis,” said ASAE President and CEO Susan Robertson, CAE. “We’re thankful Congress has recognized that associations are deserving of access to federal relief programs like the PPP. This year-end relief package qualifies as progress. However, there are many deserving associations that will find themselves still unable to qualify for PPP loans as a result of the conditions set in this bill. No legitimate, well-purposed association should be left in the cold simply because they exercise their First Amendment rights to advocate on behalf of the industries or professions they represent.”

ASAE will continue to push for legislative solutions in the next Congress that will assist associations in their recovery from the pandemic and protect them from future disruptive events. Top legislative priorities for ASAE in 2021 include passage of the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act, which would help protect associations and others from business interruption losses resulting from future pandemics or public health emergencies, and the Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, which would expand the use of “529” education savings accounts to cover the costs of professional certification and credentialing programs provided by associations.

ASAE will also work with the new Congress and administration to further educate policymakers and their staff about the vital role associations play in society.

“The months-long advocacy push this year to obtain COVID-19 relief for associations has resulted in a better understanding and appreciation for what associations do, not just on behalf of their members but for communities worldwide,” Robertson said. “Through The Power of A and other messaging, ASAE will continue to expand awareness in Congress and the incoming Biden administration about associations and their essential purpose.”

(Stephen Emlund/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Chris Vest, CAE

By Chris Vest, CAE

Chris Vest, CAE is vice president, corporate communications and public relations at ASAE. MORE

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