September has turned out to be a hectic month in Washington DC, with the end of the fiscal year, which is today, and talks resuming on a possible COVID-19 relief package. Here is a brief overview of the latest legislative issues impacting nonprofits during these challenging times:
Government funding set to be extended until December 11
On September 22, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (H.R. 8337) to extend the government funding beyond September 30 through December 11. The legislation includes several health extenders provisions through December 11; extends the surface transportation programs for one year through September 30, 2021; transfers $13.6 billion to the Highway Trust Fund; and extends the National Flood Insurance Program for a year until September 30, 2021.
House Democrats agreed to include $30 billion for the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corporation sought by the Trump administration and farm-state lawmakers, in exchange for almost $8 billion more for a pandemic program to feed children who normally receive school lunches. The Senate approved a key procedural motion on the bill yesterday evening, paving way for its passage today.
Democrats release pared down version of the HEROES Act
On September 28, House Democrats released an updated version of the HEROES Act, originally introduced in May. The introduction of this bill comes after Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced they were back at the negotiating table after seven weeks of stalled talks, to try to reach an agreement on another COVID-19 relief package.
The updated version would cost $2.2 trillion, as opposed to the $3.4 trillion price tag of the HEROES Act that passed the House in May. It includes additional money for testing and drug development, additional unemployment benefits and small business loans. You can see more details in Independent Sector’s summary of the provisions relevant to nonprofit organizations.
As a reminder, last month Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released a “skinny” version of the HEALS Act, this had a price tag of $300 billion and failed to passed the Senate. The original version of the HEALS Act introduced in July had a price tag of $1.1 trillion, you can find a summary of the provisions relevant for nonprofit organizations here. Despite the difference in price tags of the updated version of the HEROES Act and the skinny version of the HEALS Act, it seems like both Republicans and Democrats are interested in reaching an agreement before Congress leaves town for the campaign trail.
Members of nonprofit infrastructure group support Census deadline extension
On September 29, members of the Nonprofit Infrastructure Investment Advocacy Group (NIIAG) sent a letter in support of the Census Deadline Extensions Act of 2020 (S.4571), addressed to the senators who introduced the legislation. This bill would extend the deadline for the delivery of apportionment data to the U.S. House of Representatives to April 30, 2021 and the deadline for delivery of redistricting data to the states to July 31, 2021. It would also compel the Census Bureau to continue field operations through October 31, 2020 – the originally scheduled end date.