Legislative Update: Federal Action on COVID19

Legislative Update: Federal Action on COVID19

Coronavirus Preparedness Response Supplemental Appropriations Act

House and Senate Passed on March 4, 2020

President signed into law March 6, 2020

H.R.6074 addresses the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • Contains $8.3 billion to increase the availability of tests, support public and private efforts toward developing a vaccine, and assistance for small businesses
  • Bill allowes $1 billion in loan subsidies to be made available to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture producers, and nonprofit organizations which have been impacted by financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak
  • Emergency funding so that the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) could offer disaster relief loans of up to $2 million for merchants adversely impacted by the Coronavirus

 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

House Passed March 14, 2020; Senate passed March 18, 2020

President signed into law March 18, 2020

 H.R.6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed both the House and the Senate.

  • Ensures free testing, emergency paid leave, and support and flexibility for small businesses
  • Provides significant relief to businesses that otherwise may not be able to afford the employee costs associated with coronavirus-related paid leave
  • Includes a refundable payroll tax credit to reimburse—dollar-for-dollar—local businesses for paid sick leave and family and medical leave wages paid to employees that are affected by COVID-19.
  • Immediately provides $500 million in emergency administrative grants to increase state capacity to process unemployment applications and make payments
  • An additional $500 million available to states that experience a 10% percent increase in unemployment to provide 100% federally funded benefits to provide extra weeks of benefits

 

CARES Act

Currently being debated in Senate

As of 4:30 pm March 24, 2020

S.3548 – Congressional leadership and the White House continued negotiations on the third stimulus package, with the latest estimates the amount of which has risen to $1.8 trillion. Although the situation remains fluid and the bill is reportedly still undergoing revisions as all parties work towards a bipartisan compromise. This bill would provide $1,200 check to every American adult with an income under $75,000, decreasing gradually after that and zeroing out at $99,000 income.

A large portion of the bill’s funding is reserved for economic stimulus provisions including loans for businesses and direct payments to individuals, Senate Republicans also incorporated approximately $242 billion in supplemental appropriations to bolster federal agencies’ capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This would represent a significant increase over the Administration’s $45 billion supplemental request from last week.

 

Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act

House referred to Committee of Appropriations March 23, 2020

As of 4:30 pm March 24, 2020

H.R.6379 – The Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act would provide $2.5 trillion to agencies and Americans directly, including through checks of up to $1,500. Federal workers required to work during the crisis would be eligible to receive up to $2,000 in reimbursement for childcare costs per dependent child. It would require any employee with a telework agreement in place to work remotely through the end of the year. Agencies would be prohibited from instituting any organization-wide limitations on telework and would have to report to Congress if their telework rates dipped. Each agency would have to report annual goals to boost their telework usage rates.

Employees who are directly treating individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, or those with frequent, unavoidable contact” with the public, including Transportation Security Administration screeners, would be eligible for hazard pay. The measure would also ensure employees whose offices are closed, but who also cannot telework, are eligible for paid weather and safety leave. It would also create a presumption that any federal employee who contracts the coronavirus did so on the job and is therefore eligible for workers’ compensation.

 

FEMA – Updated Fact Sheet Published

  • The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has published an updated fact sheet providing additional details/specifics with regard to eligible assistance measures under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program.
  • State, territorial, tribal, and local governments became eligible to apply for funding/reimbursements through this program as a result of the President having issued an emergency declaration in response to the pandemic on March 13th.
  • The fact sheet with additional information and guide to the application can be found here, and local governments are strongly encouraged to work directly with their State Public Assistance offices and Regional FEMA Office.

 

Census Bureau Announcement

  • The Census Bureau announced it would extend the deadline for individuals to submit self-response census forms by two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, from July 31st to August 14th.
  • Additionally, the Census Bureau has suspended field operations for the next two weeks out of growing concern to public health. An adjusted schedule of census operations can be found here.

 

Executive Order – Medical Supplies

  • To prevent individuals from excessively hoarding medical supplies and personal protective equipment and/or reselling these items at a higher price, President Trump signed an Executive Order making these activities a crime in order to ensure medical facilities have the capacity and capabilities to respond to and treat COVID-19.
  • This executive order gives the President the authority to declare certain items as “scarce,” although no specific items have been identified, and will be enforced by both the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
  • The text of the executive order can be found here.

 US Capitol

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