As our country and our economy braced for impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide economic assistance for workers, families, and small businesses, and to preserve jobs. As key portions of the CARES Act expired on July 31, 2020, and with no end to the pandemic in sight, many are wondering what the future holds for Covid-19 relief.
On July 24, 2020, the Senate released their proposed Covid-19 Legislation, the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. The $1 trillion relief legislation includes $16 billion for Covid-19 testing and contact tracing; $20 billion for vaccine, therapeutic and diagnostic development; $20 billion for farmers, $30 billion to protect the military from the virus; and $105 billion in school funding,
For individuals, a second round of stimulus checks would be provided to qualified individuals at the same amount as the CARES Act.
For workers, the big area of concern, and the most contentious part of the bill standing between the House and the Senate is the issue of extended unemployment. Under the proposed HEALS Act, federal unemployment benefits would be extended, but at an additional $200 per week rather than the additional $600 per week provided by the CARES Act. The additional $200 per week would run through the first week of October, at which time States are supposed to set forth a system where they are able to provide unemployed workers 70% of their former wages.
For student loan borrowers, the HEALS Act does not include an extension of the student loan relief beyond September 30, 2020.
For businesses, the proposed HEALS Act would allow eligible small businesses to apply for a second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to businesses that can show at least a 50% reduction in gross revenues during the pandemic. One change to the PPP would expand forgivable expenses to include covered supplier costs, worker protection expenditures, operations expenditures, and certain property damage, including damage, loss from looting and/or vandalism that was incurred as a result of the 2020 riots that was not covered by insurance or otherwise compensated. Other changes to the original PPP includes letting borrowers select their preferred eight-week period to use their PPP funds and simplifying the forgiveness application process for loans of $150,000 or less. The proposed HEALS Act would further provide liability protection for the purpose of encouraging companies to reopen without the fear they will be sued and subjected to years in court and hefty fines.
Remember, the above-mentioned legislation has is not the current law, but individuals, workers, and businesses should stay up to date on the latest in Covid-19 legislation. As we learned with the CARES Act, these new laws can quickly and easily impact our livelihood and the future of our businesses.
Here at Swenson Lervick, we make it our business to stay up to date on what is going on with Covid-19 legislation so that we are better able to guide our clients during this time. Make sure to follow our Facebook page and our blog to get the latest on this important piece of proposed legislation, and let us be your guide.