Senate Republicans Unveil 'Targeted' COVID-19 Package

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Earlier today, Senate Republicans introduced the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act (S.178), the caucus’s “targeted” proposal amidst stalled COVID-19 negotiations.

In addition to allocating $10 billion to the USPS, the bill contains a number of Republican priorities, such as legal liability protections for businesses and an extension of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program at $300 per week until Dec. 27, 2020.

The bill does not contain business tax provisions that were included in the HEALS Act, such as the expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit or the Safe and Healthy Workplace Credit. However, the bill does create a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and certifies that businesses meeting the U.S. Small Business Administration’s revenue size standard, have 300 or fewer employees and demonstrate at least a 35% revenue reduction can receive a second rounds of PPP loans.

The proposal contains education provisions as well, including a proposal that provides tax credits to organizations that issue scholarships designed to promote school choice—language similar to that in the School Choice Now Act (S.4284). Additionally, the bill would allow parents at to use 529 plan funds for COVID-19-related expenses, such as online materials and licensed tutoring. The bill would also authorize $15 billion in short-term assistance to help child care providers reopen and provide further appropriations for the Education Stabilization Fund.

The bill contains a number of provisions to bolster domestic manufacturing capabilities to develop vaccines and respond to future public health threats. It also would authorize grants to establish medical product stockpiles and supplies for such emergencies.

Finally, it would increase the $300 above-the-line tax deduction for charitable contributions enacted under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L.116-136) to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for those filing a joint return.

Below is an overview of the provisions in the bill:

  • DIVISION A—Liability Protections, Continued Relief for Small Businesses and Workers, Public Health Enhancements and Educational Support
    • TITLE I—Sunsets and Offsets
      • Emergency Relief and Taxpayer Protections
      • Direct Appropriation
      • Termination of Authority
      • Rescissions
    • TITLE II—Coronavirus Liability Relief
      • Part I—Liability Limitations for Individuals and Entities Engaged in Businesses, Services, Activities or Accommodations
      • Part II—Liability Limitations for Health Care Providers
      • Part III—Substantive and Procedural Provisions for Coronavirus-Related Actions Generally
      • Part IV—Relation to Labor and Employment Laws
    • TITLE III—Assistance for American Families
    • TITLE IV—Small Business Programs
    • TITLE V—Postal Service Assistance
    • TITLE VI—Educational Support and Child Care
    • TITLE VII—Critical Minerals
  • DIVISION B—Coronavirus Response Additional Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020

While the bill may receive enough support to pass through the Republican-controlled Senate, it is unlikely to become law. Prior to the bill’s introduction, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the bill is “laden with poison pills Republicans know Democrats would never support.”

Click here for the text and here for the summary of the legislation.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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