Small Business Support
The law includes over $284 billon for Paycheck Protection Program loans, which offers forgivable loans to business owners with the goal of allowing them to keep their employees on payroll amid the crisis. The fresh relief extends the program through March 31, 2021, and also extends eligibilities on what the funds can be used for (such as property damage costs) as well as simplifies the application process for loans under $150,000.
The revamped PPP also includes a "second draw" program that allows especially hard-hit small businesses apply for a second loan of up to $2 million. Small businesses must meet stricter restrictions for these loans -- such as employ less than 300 people and be able to demonstrate at least a 25% drop in sales during at least one quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019.
The loans have been expanded to include some non-profits and local newspapers, tv, and radio stations. $15 billion is reserved for live venues, independent movie theatres, and cultural institutions.
The measure includes $10 billion for the child care industry, with those funds intended to help providers struggling with reduced enrollment or closures stay open and continue paying their staffs. The funds are also supposed to help families struggling with tuition payments.
Finally, the legislation also includes $20 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans grants through the Small Business Administration -- providing a new lifeline for some of the smallest businesses struggling through the crisis.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family and Medical Leave
The law extends federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA). However, these emergency pay types are no longer a requirement, and are now an option. Here's what employers need to know:
- Offering EPSL and EFMLA after December 31 will become optional for employers.
- An employee will no longer be entitled by law to take EPSL or EFMLA, even if they have a qualifying reason.
- Employers who choose to offer these paid leaves can still receive a tax credit if they follow the current EPSL and EFMLA rules, including job protection.
- The extension of the tax credit will be available for leaves taken through March 31, 2021.
- Employees will not get new hours to use—the unused portion of their original allotment that remains on January 1 is how much they will be able to use through March 31. For instance, if an employee who was entitled to 80 hours of EPSL between April 1 and December 31 used 40 of those hours in 2020, they’d have 40 hours left to use between January 1 and March 31, 2021.
- There is a possible exception when an employee’s EFMLA bank could reset if employers use the calendar year or another fixed FMLA tracking period that starts before March 31 and the DOL fails to readopt the regulations they wrote related to EFMLA. We expect the IRS, DOL, or both, to provide guidance soon that will clear up whether certain employers will need to offer additional hours. We will update the HR Support Center as information becomes available.
The law includes $600 direct payment checks for every adult and child earning up to $75,000. Individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000 would get smaller checks, and the benefit cuts out entirely for individuals earning over $99,000.
Lawmakers agreed to extend enhanced unemployment benefits for jobless workers, who will receive up to $300 per week until March 14, 2020. Self-employed people and gig workers will also receive extended assistance.
The measure includes $25 billion to help families pay their rent, and it extends the eviction moratorium now in effect until Jan. 31, 2020.
The measure includes an additional $13 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for six months, beginning on Jan. 1st, 2020.
The overall legislation provides $13 billion for increased nutrition assistance, $400 million of which will support food banks and food pantries. An additional $175 million is earmarked for nutrition programs under the Older Americans Act, such as Meals on Wheels.
Funding for Vaccines
The legislation sets aside nearly $70 billion for a range of public health measures, including $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, $8 billion for vaccine distribution and an additional $20 billion to help states continue their test-and-trace programs.
The bill also allows a federal program that insures mortgages for nursing homes to dole out emergency loans aimed at helping hard-hit elder care centers.
The measure contains $7 billion to increase access to broadband Internet, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit that Democrats say will help millions of students' families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.
The compromise would protect tenants struggling with rent by extending a moratorium on evictions for another month, through Jan. 31. The Department of Housing and Urban Development separately issued a similar moratorium on Monday that protects homeowners against foreclosures on mortgages backed by the Federal Home Administration. It runs until Feb. 28.
The measure contains $82 billion in funding for schools and universities to assist with reopening, including, $2.75 billion for private K-12 education.
A ban on surprise medical bills
The package will also help millions of Americans avoid unexpected medical bills that can result from visits to hospitals. The bill makes it illegal for hospitals to charge patients for services like emergency treatment by out-of-network doctors or transport in air ambulances, which patients often have no say about.
Lawmakers also agreed to provide $45 billion in transportation-related assistance, including:
$16 billion for airlines to pay the salaries of workers and contractors.
$14 billion for mass transit agencies.
$10 billion for highways.
$1 billion for Amtrak.
Support for climate measures
The deal includes new legislation to regulate hydrofluorocarbons, the powerful greenhouse gases common in air-conditioners and refrigerators.
It also allocates $35 billion to fund wind, solar and other clean energy projects.
There is some $13 billion in the measure for farmers and agriculture, including money under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program for growers and livestock, dairy and poultry producers.
Lawmakers also included a provision making the cost of meals a deductible business expense.