December 21, 2020

Congress Agrees Upon a $900 Billion Coronavirus Relief Package

Earlier this month, Michelman & Robinson, LLP reported on efforts in Congress to agree upon a compromise coronavirus aid package worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $908 billion. Finally, after weeks of dissension, partisan gamesmanship and difficult negotiations, that agreement has been realized.

Yesterday (December 20), leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives announced that they have arrived at a $900 billion rescue package that will provide long-awaited financial assistance to small businesses, as well as millions of unemployed Americans in need. As detailed below, the deal will also deliver, among other things, housing assistance, funds for schools and colleges, and money for COVID-19 testing and vaccines, including distribution.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer optimistically framed the coronavirus relief bill—which Congress is expected to pass imminently before being promptly signed into law by President Trump—as something that will “crush the virus and put money in the pockets of the American people.”

What Relief Can Small Businesses and Individuals Expect From the Legislation?

As of this writing, it is not entirely clear exactly what the legislation will include, but we expect it will contain the following key provisions:

Institutional Relief

  • More than $280 billion for a revived Paycheck Protection Program providing forgivable loans to small businesses (of note, businesses that have already received PPP loans will be eligible to get second ones under new terms)
  • A tax credit for employers offering paid sick leave, among other miscellaneous tax benefits
  • $9 billion in emergency Treasury capital investments for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) that, for the most part, serve minority communities
  • $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for small businesses
  • $15 billion in grants earmarked for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions
  • $82 billion for schools and colleges to allow them to reopen classrooms safely

Individual Relief

  • Direct $600 payments for adults and children (subject to certain specified income level requirements). This is half the $1,200 given to adults under the CARES Act enacted in March, but more than was previously allocated per child
  • $300 per week for enhanced unemployment insurance benefits (half the supplemental benefits provided from April through July)
  • $25 billion for rental assistance for families facing eviction and an extension of the residential eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021
  • $10 billion in child care assistance
  • $13 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (previously referred to as food stamps) and child nutrition benefits
  • $7 billion for enhanced broadband access to facilitate connectivity during the pandemic

Vaccine Funding

  • $20 billion to purchase vaccines
  • $8 billion for vaccine distribution
  • $20 billion for states to conduct testing
  • $20 billion in federal relief for health care providers

It is our understanding that the aid package will be signed into law in tandem with a $1.4 trillion measure to fund federal agencies through September 2021, as well as legislation extending expiring tax provisions.

Of course, we will update this alert should any of the actual provisions be markedly different than as described here. In the meantime, we are always available to provide advice and counsel concerning any of your COVID-19-related legal needs, including PPP loan applications and forgiveness. Do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about M&R’s COVID-19 Practice Group.

Bryan Johnson

COVID 19, Labor & Employment
Banking & Financial Services, Cannabis, Hospitality, Insurance