What You Need To Know About The Massive COVID-19 Relief Bill

By Brendan Kennedy

What You Need To Know About The Massive COVID-19 Relief Bill

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Good evening Members,

Late Monday night, the U.S. Senate passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill – the first substantial stimulus package since the CARES Act was enacted in March. Included in this massive spending measure are provisions to accelerate free and equitable distribution of the coronavirus vaccine and implement strong national testing and tracing programs with money dedicated to fight the inequities in communities of color.

The measure will provide $300 per week Unemployment Insurance enhancement for Americans who are out of work as a result of the pandemic-induced economic fallout and a new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child.

Also included:

  • $25 billion in rental assistance, an extension of the eviction moratorium,
  • a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave based on the Families First framework,
  • an extension and improvement of the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help keep workers in their jobs during coronavirus closures, and,
  • $13 billion in increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition benefits.

As a result of advocacy by Congressional Leadership and members of New York’s delegation, three key issues were also included: relief for small businesses, funding for broadband and the inclusion of additional non-profits in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The details of these are as follows:

Small Business Relief

At the onset of the pandemic, Congress passed legislation creating the PPP and an Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program intended for sole proprietorships and small businesses. This new stimulus package will include more than $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans; expanded PPP eligibility for non-profits and local newspapers, TV stations and radio stations; modifications to PPP to help better serve the smallest businesses and key non-profits and $20 billion for targeted EIDL grants.

Broadband

The pandemic has laid bare the realities of the digital divide and made it clear that reliable online access is not a privilege, but a right. Without connectivity, businesses and residents cannot succeed in the so-called new normal that has forced us to live the majority of our lives virtually. Understanding the unprecedented need for access to broadband and the subsequent impact on American’s access to justice, NYSBA urged Congress to include funding for the expansion of 21st-century digital infrastructure. Included in this package is $7 billion to increase access to broadband – including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help students, families and unemployed workers afford access, and $1 billion in Tribal broadband grants for chronically underserved Native American communities.

Inclusion of Certain Non-Profits in Eligibility for PPP

When the PPP was created, trade and professional associations that operate as non-profits were excluded from participating. NYSBA wrote to Congressional leaders, urging them to expand PPP relief to include small businesses under the 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. Many of these 501(c)(6) organizations in New York suffered greatly due to reduced revenues as a result of the economic downturn, which, in turn, impacted these organizations’ employees.

This new legislation provides that any organization that is described in section 501(c)(6) and is exempt from taxation – save for professional sports leagues and organizations with the purpose of promoting or participating in a political campaign – to be eligible to receive a covered loan if they meet certain requirements.

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