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New Poll Shows Americans Strongly Oppose Congressional Effort to Bail Out Corporate Lobbying Groups

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

Today, Data for Progress and the Democratic Policy Center released polling that shows Americans strongly oppose Congressional action to bail out corporate lobbying groups (501(c)(6) “trade associations”) even if it means local chambers of commerce would qualify for funding. It also shows that while a lobbying group bailout is highly unpopular, Americans are unified in their support for providing direct funding to families and individuals, as well as cities and states and small businesses.

This poll is made public as momentum grows in Washington for three separate pieces of legislation to allow lobbying groups to access loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, the forgivable loan program meant to help small businesses survive the coronavirus crisis. It likewise follows the introduction of the “Paycheck Guarantee Act,” a bill that would temporarily cover the salaries of workers earning up to $100,000, and Bernie Sanders’ proposal to pay every American $2000 a month until the Coronavirus crisis ends.

Key Findings:

  • 48 percent of Americans oppose Congressional legislation “to extend coronavirus-relief funds to non-profits like local chambers of commerce and tourism boards if large corporate lobbying groups, including groups that lobby for drug manufacturers, health insurance companies and oil and gas producers, would qualify for the relief funds.” Only 34 percent of respondents support the measure.

  • Respondents were asked a series of questions about the importance of providing coronavirus relief funds to different types of groups or organizations. By overwhelming majorities, respondents believe it is important to provide relief funds to families and individuals (89 percent), small businesses (87 percent), and cities and states (82 percent). Few believe it is important to bail out large corporations (38 percent) and lobbying groups (30 percent).

Information about proposed legislation in Congress to bail out lobbying groups:

  • The HEROES Act passed by House Democrats would allow almost all nonprofits of any type and size to be eligible for PPP funds. The legislation sets aside 25 percent of existing PPP funds for nonprofits. It would also reserve half of that money for nonprofits with less than 500 employees — which House Democrats described as “small nonprofits.” According to research conducted by the Democratic Policy Center, 99.9 percent of trade associations could qualify for this “small nonprofit” fund, including powerful lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber, the American Petroleum Institute, and Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

  • H.R. 6697 is a bipartisan, standalone bill in the House to bail out trade associations with up to 300 employees. Under the bill, which has 109 co-sponsors, roughly 99.8 of trade associations would be eligible. Huge lobbying groups like PhRMA and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), D.C.’s top insurance lobby, could qualify for PPP loans. The bill was referred to the House Small Business Committee. The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., recently told The Hill: “I am opposed to allowing lobbyists and national lobbying groups to benefit from PPP." However, the current bill would allow national lobbying groups to obtain PPP loans.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced a bill in early May to allow 501(c)(6) groups into the PPP. It would allow lobbying groups to qualify for the PPP under the current program terms, meaning groups with up to 500 employees. While the Cruz legislation has not been finalized, at least 22 Senators have signed letters demanding that 501(c)(6) trade associations be eligible for PPP loans.

Data For Progress Poll Cross-tabs:

Lobby Bailout DPC Poll Crosstabs
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