WHAT MIGHT CONGRESS’ NEXT CORONAVIRUS RELIEF BILL LOOK LIKE?
Talks in Washington about a fourth Coronavirus relief bill are beginning to gain traction – as the economy shows mixed signs of progress and states experience spikes in COVID-19 cases. Congress has so far passed three significant pieces of legislation in response to the pandemic, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the historic CARES Act. This next piece of legislation is expected to continue many of the themes of the CARES Act, such as loans and grants for small businesses, economic impact payments to individuals, and funds for state and local governments. But details are still emerging and policymakers remain divided over priorities and how much to spend. Any forthcoming bill could also cover important new ground.
GLI recently highlighted its top priorities for a fourth relief package in an op-ed by GLI President & CEO Sarah Davasher Wisdom. Those priorities include:
- Robust legal liability protections for employers from opportunistic lawsuits seeking to exploit the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19
- Regulatory flexibility and clear guidance from federal agencies so that businesses can appropriately adapt their operations, comply with new health and safety regulations, and help fight the coronavirus
- Continuous funding of small business loan and grant programs and reevaluation and analysis of these programs to ensure ample flexibility and effectiveness
- Refocusing federal workforce and training programs to assist workers displaced by the pandemic so that they can transition off unemployment, develop new skills, and return to the workforce
- Dedication of large-scale resources to protect public health and our health care infrastructure
Many of these ideas are gaining traction in D.C., but numerous other ideas are on the table as well. Below are some of the key concepts that members of Congress and the Trump administration are (publicly, at least) discussing for a fourth Coronavirus relief bill.
- Federal legal liability protections for employers against frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19
- Automatic forgiveness of smaller Paycheck Protection Program loans
- Renewal of the Paycheck Protection Program and additional funding for other small business grant and loan programs – this could include allowing businesses that have already received loans or grants to reapply for additional funding
- Extension of the $600 federal unemployment benefit from the CARES Act or adjustments to the benefit to ensure it does not discourage individuals from returning to employment
- Rehiring bonuses for individuals who return to work
- A payroll tax cut
- Funding for state and local governments to help them fill budget gaps caused by the impact of COVID-19 on state revenues
- Economic impact payments for low-income households
- Infrastructure funding
- Rent and mortgage assistance
- Funding to help stabilize the child care sector – upwards of $50 billion in funds
- Funding for schools
- A tax-credit “cash out” for businesses with carryovered credits as well as proposals to advance accrued net operating loss deductions
- Continued suspension of interest and payments of student loans