In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...
The Next COVID-19 Package
After a short delay, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the Republican response to the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Called the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, the proposal has been introduced as a series of bills, including:
- The SAFE TO WORK Act (S.4317) - Introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), the bill provides liability protections related to employee exposure at work.
- American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act (S.4318)– Introduced by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the legislation includes another round of stimulus payments for Americans, expanded federal unemployment benefits, tax incentives for businesses and other provisions.
- Coronavirus Response Additional Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (S.4320) – Introduced by Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), the bill includes emergency funding for schools, testing, and other priorities in response to COVID-19.
- Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act (S.4321) – Introduced by Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the legislation includes provisions related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as well as other small business programs.
Independent Sector has released a summary focusing on a few of the provisions in the HEALS Act important to the nonprofit sector. In addition, the National Council on Nonprofits has released an analysis comparing the various provisions included in the HEROES Act and HEALS Act. Unfortunately, neither the HEROES Act nor the HEALS Act include an expansion of the $300 above-the-line charitable deduction that was included in the CARES Act. The Council is continuing to work with our partners to urge Congress to include improvements to the charitable deduction in a final package.
Throughout the week, Congressional leaders and White House officials have been engaged in discussions, but the parties are currently far apart.
House Moves Forward With Appropriations
Last week, the House passed legislation to continue funding for several federal agencies. The legislation, H.R. 7608, includes funding for the Departments of State, Interior, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs, among others. This week, the House is considering a second measure (H.R. 7617) that includes funding for several more agencies, including the Departments of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, Transportation, Justice, Defense and more. The Senate has not yet considered their fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills yet.
Federal funding for the current fiscal year ends on September 30th. The expectation is that Congress will pass a continuing resolution to extend funding for the federal government until after the election. Following the November election, Congressional leaders will likely begin discussions on a funding package for the rest of fiscal year 2021.
Our writer for issues concerning the Executive Branch is out of the office this week.
Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.
New York Short-Changing Nonprofits
Governments are starting to shift their financial burdens onto nonprofits again, prompting a coalition of New York nonprofits to send a letter to Governor Cuomo calling for a reversal of an executive order suspending prompt payment laws and delaying payments to nonprofits. The letter requests the state take five additional actions: fully implement recommendations by the State Comptroller to improve relationships between the state and nonprofits; register all pending contracts and not impose retroactive cuts; end the policy of financially penalizing nonprofits that secured Payroll Protection Program loans; streamline the approval process; and create a Nonprofit COVID-19 Recovery Advisory Committee and reinstall a nonprofit representative agency as co-chair. The New York Council of Nonprofits, a state association of nonprofits and leader of the letter, stated, “We urge the State of New York to recognize that community-based nonprofits are not merely vendors or contracting organizations, but are genuine partners serving the public interest. The nonprofit sector can bring tremendous talent, knowledge, innovative thinking, community connections and resources to the table. If we truly are all in this together, then it is imperative that the State of New York honor its responsibility to its residents by working very closely with our sector in developing and implementing the effective strategies that are in this crisis to rebuild our communities.”
Some States Including Nonprofits in COVID-19 Grants Programs
In recent weeks, several additional states have created COVID-19 grants programs for businesses, including charitable nonprofits. Tennessee Governor Lee announced $150 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds will be made available to nonprofits in the state to assist efforts to address the ongoing health and economic impacts of COVID-19. “The COVID-19 pandemic has placed enormous strain on all aspects of our society, and nonprofit organizations are no different. Nonprofits play a vital role in ensuring Tennesseans’ needs are met in times of crisis, and it’s imperative these organizations receive financial support to continue their work,” said the Governor. “The Tennessee Community CARES Program will help alleviate the duress nonprofits are under and ensure they continue to support their communities.”
After strong advocacy by the Wyoming Nonprofit Network, Wyoming nonprofits are included in two new COVID-19-related grant programs. The Relief Fund is for nonprofit and for-profit employers with up to 100 employees that have lost revenue due to public health orders and/or have incurred COVID-19 related expenses. Applicants can apply for up to $300,000. The Mitigation Fund is for nonprofits and for-profits that have incurred employee and customer health and safety expenses directly related to COVID-19. Maine's Economic Recovery Committee, which includes the Maine Association of Nonprofits, delivered to the Governor its recommendations for urgent economic support and stabilization measures in response to the pandemic. Among the recommendations is $50 million for investment in nonprofits, stating, “Right now, cities and states are relying on nonprofit partners as a buffer against the worst impacts of the outbreak. However, nonprofits are facing costs and losses incurred as a direct result of COVID-19.”