Democrats Step Toward Their Dance Partners on COVID-19 Relief Legislation

When the CARES Act was signed into law in March, swift passage of additional major COVID-19 relief legislation was considered a safe bet. Whether you blame the DC summer heat, fast-approaching elections, or just good old-fashioned stubbornness, summer has come and gone and that conventional wisdom was dead wrong. With Congress merely days away from leaving town for campaign season, the parties are still talking but remain hundreds of billions of dollars apart. Chatter among policymakers has already turned to predictions and strategy for post-election negotiations, despite the clear and urgent national need for legislative action.

Against this backdrop, House Democrats released their latest offer earlier this week in the long-simmering dispute. Once again dubbed the HEROES Act, this updated version carries a $2.2 trillion price tag that is still hefty, if decidedly smaller than its $3.4 trillion namesake. There are any number of provisions in this 2,000 page bill that will be of great interest to the charitable sector, and I hope you will learn more in Independent Sector’s summary of the updated HEROES Act. Some of the provisions and omissions bear highlighting in particular:

  • Streamlined forgiveness for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of less than $150,000,
  • Expansion of PPP eligibility to include some nonprofit organizations with more than 500 employees, a key request from our community if one that is being fulfilled incompletely,
  • Creation of a “second draw” loan for organizations that have already received PPP assistance and can show deep financial damage, with nonprofit eligibility,
  • Extension of the time period for which the federal government will cover 50% of the unemployment insurance payments for “reimbursing” nonprofits, without the increased relief our community is requesting,
  • Continued failure to improve the welcome but inadequate $300 above-the-line charitable deduction,
  • Enhancements to the employee hiring and retention payroll tax credit, and
  • Critical funding for many key sector priorities, including election security, decennial census, broadband access, and more.

This version of the legislation is a step by its authors toward their negotiating partners in the Senate and the White House, but it certainly won’t be signed into law as is. In fact, if this version of the legislation even receives a vote this week, take it as a bad sign for the prospects of any last-minute deal coming together. Nonprofit advocates will certainly continue to raise their voices in the coming days, and will be watching for any indication that desperately needed relief is coming soon.

Read the full summary.

Types: Blog, Policy Update
Global Topics: Administration, Civil Society, Congress, COVID-19 Public Policy, COVID-19 Response, Infrastructure, NIIAG, Public Policy, Voices for Good
Policy Issues: Charitable Giving, Civil Society Infrastructure, Federal Budget & Fiscal Policy, Nonprofit Operations, Tax & Fiscal Policy