In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...
Expanding and Extending the Temporary Charitable Deduction
The Council on Foundations joined more than 300 organizations urging Congress to expand and extend the temporary $300 above-the-line charitable deduction that was included in March as part of the CARES Act.
Federal Government Funding Deadline Moved to December 18
On Wednesday, the House overwhelmingly passed a 1-week Continuing Resolution (CR), extending funding an additional week. The Senate passed the CR Friday and the bill is now headed to the President’s desk where he is expected to sign it.
House and Senate Appropriations leaders and staff are working to finalize a larger appropriations package, but a few issues remain unresolved. Lawmakers are optimistic that the additional week will give them the time they need to work everything out, but the possibility of Congress having to pass another CR this year is not yet off the table.
COVID-19 Relief Negotiations
On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin posted on Twitter that he presented Congressional leaders with a $916 billion relief package. In addition, the bipartisan group of lawmakers released a new, more comprehensive framework of their $908 billion COVID-relief package Wednesday. Still, it is unclear if any of these proposals have enough support to pass both chambers and get to the President’s desk. Without swift action by Congress, several critical relief programs will expire impacting millions of Americans.
Department of Commerce
On December 7, Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Strategic Plan prioritizes the expansion of U.S. commercial space activities (Strategic Objective 1.1.) in support of the new United States Space Policy announced by the Trump Administration. The new policy commits the United States to facilitating growth of an American commercial space sector that supports the nation’s interests in the generation of new markets and innovation-driven entrepreneurship. Resources will be leveraged across Commerce’s bureaus to grow the space economy through industry engagement, policy advocacy, export promotion, regulatory streamlining, international cooperation, satellite data buys, regional development grants, minority business promotion, economic analysis, and intellectual property protection.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA and its partners released the 15th Arctic Report Card, with the latest scientific observations of climate change in the Arctic, a sensitive part of the world that impacts other parts of the planet.
A panel of scientists released this year's report on December 8 at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The report analyzes air temperatures, sea ice, snow cover, ocean temperature, high-latitude wildfires, the MOSAiC expedition, and ecosystem changes. The Arctic Report Card has been updated annually since 2006.
Department of Education
On December 4, the Department announced an extension of the federal student loan administrative forbearance period, the pause in interest accrual, and the suspension of collections activity through January 31, 2021. Federal student loan borrowers will not be expected to make payments through January of next year.
Department of Energy
- DOE announced selections for $130 million in new projects to advance solar technologies. Through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, DOE will fund 67 research projects across 30 states that reduce the cost of solar, increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, and improve the reliability of the nation’s electric grid.
- DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs announced a formalized process for Indian tribes and eligible tribal entities to request Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005). In doing so, the Department acknowledged that Native nations’ economies have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are among the most vulnerable communities in the United States. This has limited their ability to meet the minimum cost share requirements of EPACT 2005 grants. The formalized process allows each tribe or tribal entity to address their unique circumstances, consistent with tribal sovereignty and self-determination.
Environmental Protection Agency
- On December 9th, the EPA announced final rule changes that could make it more difficult for the incoming Biden administration to make new rules to protect the environment and public health because it limits the consideration of their costs and benefits. If it is finalized, the rule, not yet published in the Federal Register, will give the agency leeway from considering the broader public benefits of new regulations, such as the value of fewer asthma attacks and respiratory ailments.
- On December 7th, the EPA announced the agency’s final decision to retain the existing National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) set by the Obama-Biden Administration without changes.
Department of Health and Human Services
- The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health (OMH) is seeking nominations of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment as a member of the Advisory Committee on Minority Health. All nominations should be emailed to CAPT Samuel Wu, Designated Federal Officer, Advisory Committee on Minority Health, Office of Minority Health, at firstname.lastname@example.org and copy to email@example.com. The deadline to submit nominations is 5:00 p.m. (ET) on March 4th, 2021.
- The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) seeks to gain a more comprehensive understanding from health systems, community-based organizations, academic institutions, non-federal government agencies, innovators, entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations, and other relevant stakeholders regarding innovative solutions to chronic disease management leveraging novel technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, biosensors, apps, remote monitoring, 5G) to optimize compliance with evidence-based standards of care in disease states that cause significant morbidity and mortality in aging populations in underserved areas (e.g., low income, Medicaid-eligible, rural). Comments are due by December 22nd.
- The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is seeking public comment on a proposal to collect data on the challenges and unique opportunities of administering human services programs in rural contexts. Case studies of 12 communities will provide ACF with a rich description of human services programs in rural contexts to strengthen their capacity to promote the economic and social wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities. Comments are due January 29th.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
In November, HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research published the Research Roadmap: 2020 Update, HUD’s research agenda supports evidence-based policymaking for the Department. The Research Roadmap was developed with input and support from practitioners, advocates, researchers, and policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels. To provide feedback on the research questions, themes, and projects proposed, contact the HUD Research Roadmap team or leave comments at HUDResearchRoadmap@huduser.gov.
Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission announced on December 7 that millions of rural Americans in 49 states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will gain access to high-speed Internet service through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction.
Department of Interior
The National Park Services is seeking applicants for its Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance program. The program supports community-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the nation. National Park Service staff are available to provide free, on-location facilitation and planning expertise. The deadline to apply is March 1st, 2021.
State Surveys Show Nonprofit Closures, Loss Revenues
Charitable nonprofits have seen demand for their services skyrocket as their costs of operations increase and revenues plummet, according to survey results from across the country. Research conducted in at least 35 states show dire circumstances and the need for support from federal and state governments. This week the Florida Nonprofit Alliance released its latest report finding that current and future funding remains the top concern with 64 percent of nonprofit organizations “somewhat” or “very concerned” with loss of revenue and 59 percent “somewhat” or “very concerned” for future funding in 2021 and beyond. Seventy-one percent of nonprofits have had a decrease in unrestricted revenue in 2020, and more than one in four nonprofits (29%) have no reserves to tap. In a separate statewide survey conducted in Texas, the majority of nonprofits that responded also reported this month a loss of individual donations and fee-for-service earnings while 43 percent reported dealing with an increased demand for services.
The Nonprofit Association of the Midlands reported the results of a pulse poll of 248 nonprofits in Iowa and Nebraska, finding the nonprofits collectively anticipated losing $54 million dollars in revenue, up from $42 million in April. The Montana Nonprofit Association reported in September that one in four nonprofits in the state had experienced significant new expenses as a result of COVID-19, and half of the organizations reported significant reductions in revenue. Released this week, a follow-up survey focusing on separate nonprofit subsectors found that these trends continued into the fall, with only food banks reporting increased donations, though not enough to meet growing demand. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of South Carolina nonprofits responding to a statewide survey indicated they could survive for only six months without additional funding. Five percent said they were already out of funds and 29 percent acknowledged they could operate for only three more months without additional funds. And finally, ending on a somewhat positive note, more than half of respondents (51%) to a poll by the Alliance for Arizona Nonprofits in October stated it is “highly unlikely” that “they will have to close permanently in their next fiscal year if funding does not improve in 2021….”