Update on Senate COVID-19 Relief Package

I am writing to provide a very quick update as to where things stand on mid-Sunday afternoon regarding the third Coronavirus relief package.

Negotiations have stalled for the moment with a primary sticking point between Republicans and Democrats being the $500 billion pool of assistance to be administered as loans and loan guarantees. It is unclear at this moment if negotiations toward a bipartisan package will start back up before the end of the day or if Democrats and Republicans might now choose to pursue separate paths that would then need to be reconciled.

The bill that Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he will bring to a procedural vote in the Senate in the near term (latest estimate is 6pm this evening) does include the SBA loan program mentioned above, with limitations on nonprofit eligibility. Specifically, nonprofits with over 500 employees and those receiving Medicaid dollars are ineligible. While there have been some improvements in the loan provisions, we remain deeply concerned by the cap and the Medicaid exclusion and are using every opportunity we can to see them fixed.

While we are pleased to see that the latest Republican Senate package maintains the above the line deduction for charitable giving, it has a limit of $300 in deductions and is dramatically insufficient to address the decline in charitable giving that is likely coming as this crisis persists. Our advocacy, along with organizations across the sector, has been that the universal charitable deduction that lands in the final package must be as expansive as possible to meet the challenges to giving that sit on the horizon.

There is some evidence that our united advocacy on this front has been heard.

There is some promising news in an amendment that Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) plans to propose regarding the universal charitable deduction. It would increase the cap on deductions to roughly $4,000 for individuals and $8,000 for married couples. It would be available for all of 2020.

Because these caps represent a dramatic improvement from the underlying bill, Independent Sector strongly supports the amendment. We encourage you to join in support of the Lankford amendment by signing a letter of endorsement here.

Finally, and because we all know that things are moving hour by hour, we are going to be doing two things. First, we will be using our IS twitter account to tweet updates for the remainder of the day today. Join us for a call Monday, March 23 at 11:00 am ET to share what we know with you.

Like each of you, I wish we could provide more clarity about where this all is going to land. The best we can do right now is to keep you informed and to ensure that we are all using our voices to communicate to our Members of Congress.

More to come.

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Global Topics: Administration, Congress, COVID-19 Response, Public Policy, Voices for Good