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CORONAVIRUS FEDERAL UPDATES

Congress has passed six major packages of legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic:

H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, provided $8.3 billion in entirely new funding to combat the coronavirus epidemic and included critical transparency and accountability provisions to ensure that all funds would be used as intended to keep Americans safe. 

H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, ensured access to COVID-19 testing, provided two weeks of paid sick leave for workers and twelve weeks of paid family leave for those impacted by the virus, authorized tax credits for impacted employers, and expanded access to unemployment insurance for those who are laid off.  It also expanded access to food assistance programs and increased federal Medicaid funding.

H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a bipartisan $2 trillion spending package, included provisions to support families and workers, small businesses, state and local organizations and health care workers and hospitals.  The bill also provided direct cash payments to Americans and increased unemployment compensation for those who lost their jobs because of COVID-19. 

H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, a $484 billion bipartisan package included provisions to help small businesses, hospitals and health care workers, as well as increase testing across the country.  This included an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program with $60 billion set aside for smaller lenders; $50 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and $10 billion for more EIDL grants; $75 billion for  hospitals and for personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers; and $25 billion for increasing testing and research, including requiring a national plan for testing.

H.R. 133, a $900 billion package that Congress passed on December 22, 2020.  This critical bill provides additional funding for another round of stimulus checks, expands the Paycheck Protection Program, boosts spending for vaccine distribution and research, and contains a number of other critical provisions necessary for our families, businesses, and communities to beat COVID-19.  This represents another much-needed short-term relief package, while Congress works to craft another bipartisan agreement in the weeks and months ahead in 2021.  

H.R. 133 builds upon the previously passed bills and strengthens the federal response to the COVID 19 public health and economic crisis.  This is an important step to getting people, businesses and communities the help they need, but more work remains.  Click here to learn more about what was included in H.R. 133.

Congress has also passed H.R. 1799, the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act on a bipartisan basis, which President Biden signed into law on March 30, 2021.  The legislation extends the deadline to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from March 31st to May 31st, and extends authorization of loans to June 30th in order to give the Small Business Administration additional time to process applications

The American Rescue Plan (H.R. 1319) is a $1.9 trillion emergency legislative package to provide the resources needed to address the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis and spur a strong economic recovery.

The American Rescue Plan Act will:

  • Increase direct assistance to households in need across America by $1,400 per person, bringing the total (including the $600 down payment enacted in December) to $2,000 for eligible recipients.
  • Extend and expand unemployment insurance and give families with children as well as childless workers a boost through enhanced tax credits, including:
    • Extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program which extends benefits to some self-employed and some other pandemic-affected individuals who don’t qualify for regular state unemployment benefits through September 6;
    • Extends Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, the federal supplement to state UI benefits of $300 for the weeks ending after March 14 until September 6;
    • Ensures up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation isn’t taxed for households making less than $150,000 a year for 2020;
    • Makes the child tax credit fully refundable, and advanceable, for 2021 and increases the amount to $3,000 per child ($3,600 per child under age 6); and
    • Helps families access high-quality childcare by expanding the Child and Dependent Tax Credit (CDCTC) to allow many families to claim up to half of their childcare expenses.
  • Extend enhanced SNAP benefits, providing funds to alleviate backlogs and respond to pandemic impacts in our food supply chains.
  • Provide $2.5 billion in emergency rental assistance.
  • Provide nutrition assistance to families and expand access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable health care.
  • Provide nearly $130 billion to help K-12 schools safely reopen and address lost time in the classroom, including an estimated $5 billion for schools in Pennsylvania.
  • Dedicate nearly $40 billion for institutions of higher education and requires institutions to dedicate at least half of their funding for emergency financial aid grants to students.
  • Provide resources to increase COVID-19 vaccinations across the country to test, treat and protect all Americans.  The plan will mount a national vaccination program that includes setting up community vaccination sites nationwide.  It will also take complementary measures to combat the virus, including scaling up testing and tracing, addressing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical supplies, investing in high-quality treatments, and addressing health care disparities.
  • Provide support for small businesses including:
    • $15 billion for COVID-19 Emergency Grants Through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program;
    • $7.25 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and expands eligibility of 501(c) nonprofits of all sizes and types; and
    • $28.6 billion for a new program at the Small Business Administration (SBA) to aid restaurants and bars with 20 or fewer locations, with $5 billion set aside specifically for smaller establishments with less than $500,000 in 2019 annual revenue.
  • Provide crucial resources to protect the jobs and health of first responders, frontline public health workers, teachers, transit workers, and other essential workers that all Americans depend on, including:
    • $20 billion for vaccine administration and distribution;
    • $48.3 billion for testing, contact tracing, and mitigation and purchasing personal protective equipment; and
    • $7.66 billion to hire thousands of full-time employees into the public health workforce.
  • Procure essential medical supplies and equipment through the Defense Production Act.
  • Provide key funding for transit agencies, airports, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) including:
    • $30 billion for transit to help transit agencies keep jobs for drivers, mechanics and other employees;
    • Purchase of PPE, shields, sanitizer, wipes for their workers, and to maintain the transit routes relied upon by Americans;
    • $10 billion for a Critical Infrastructure Projects program to help states, territories, and Tribal governments carry out capital projects directly enabling work, education, and health, in response to COVID-19.
    • $8 billion in emergency aid for airports – including approximately $35 million for Pittsburgh International Airport; and
    • $50 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.
  • Provide funds to help the VA meet the health and economic needs of our nation’s veterans, including funds to waive copays for treatment and to help the VA reduce claims and appeals backlogs caused by COVID.
  • Include direct payments, extended pandemic-related unemployment benefits, financial assistance for individuals to retain health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and funding for enhancements to refundable tax credits – like the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit – designed to help low-income Americans and combat child poverty.
  • Provide $7 billion to invest in broadband infrastructure to help schools and libraries ensure that all students can fully participate in remote learning while schools work to safely reopen.
  • Provide $350 billion for state and local governments.  For Pennsylvania, that means approximately $7.3 billion for the state government and $6.4 billion for local governments across the Commonwealth.  For local governments the funding amount is determined by population.  Local governments will receive their allocations in two tranches – the first half 60 days after enactment and the other half one year later.  For nonentitlement units of local government, those deadlines are the dates for Treasury to send the funding to the state, which then has an extra 30 days to distribute appropriately.