Congress Reaches Agreement on Additional COVID-19 Relief

On Sunday, December 20, 2020, Congressional leaders announced an agreement on a fourth major COVID-19 response bill. Although the legislative language is being finalized, statements from the parties involved in negotiations indicate the agreement includes focused relief for businesses, individuals, and families.

  • For businesses:
    • Expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The proposal includes more than $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans. PPP will now be accessible to nonprofits, local newspapers, TV, and radio broadcasters.
    • Dedicated PPP set-aside for small businesses and lending through community-based lenders like Community Development Financial Institutions (and Minority Depository Institutions).
    • $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.
    • $20 billion for additional grants under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
    • Provision of a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave.
    • Extension and improvement of the Employee Retention Tax Credit.
    • $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including support for HVAC repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms.
  • For individuals and families:
    • A new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child.
    • $25 billion in rental assistance for families and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
    • Enhancement of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to increase affordable housing construction and provide greater certainty to new and ongoing affordable housing projects.
    • Strengthening of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
    • Extension of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and addition of a $300 UI enhancement for individuals out of work.
    • $13 billion in increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and child nutrition benefits.
      $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open.
    • $7 billion to increase access to broadband, including a new emergency broadband benefit to help millions of students, families, and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.
    • An expansion of the Pell Grant Program.

Although the legislation does not provide further financial assistance requested by state and local governments, it does provide funding to accelerate the distribution of vaccines, both domestically and internationally.

There are additional provisions in the bill, which include:

  • Ending surprise medical billing for emergency and scheduled care.
  • Providing sweeping clean energy reforms, R&D enhancements, and efficiency incentives, and extending clean energy tax credits to create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the clean economy.
  • Phasing out super pollutant HFCs.
  • Including the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, creating good-paying jobs and improving water infrastructure.

The provisions detailed above still require approval by Congress and President Trump. Should you need additional information on this agreement or have any related questions, please contact Jason J. Redd of firm’s Government & Regulatory Affairs Department in Washington, DC.

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