December 16, 2020
By Mark Valentini, Director of Legislative Affairs
Congress appears to be on the cusp of a deal for another major COVID relief package that will restart the Paycheck Protection Program, issue stimulus payments to Americans, and offer another round of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
What will not be included in the package is aid to state and local governments for emergency COVID response, and more importantly it will not include liability protection for small business vigorously advocated by PHCC and other business stakeholders. Because the issue of payments to state and local governments was a non-starter for Republicans, and liability protection a non-starter for Democrats, both provisions were pulled from consideration in order to keep the prospects of a deal alive.
Negotiators are using bipartisan language for a $908 billion COVID relief package released on Monday, December 14 as the starting point for negotiations. It is likely that language from that bill expanding eligibility for the PPP to 501(c)6 organizations, establishment of a second draft PPP loans program for small businesses that took a PPP loan and continue to struggle, and reversal of IRS guidance from earlier this year prohibiting deductions for qualified expenses paid with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds will be part of the package. FPUC benefits would be $300 per week through March, and stimulus payments to qualified individuals would amount to approximately $600-$700.
If that’s not all, Congress must still consider a tax extenders package to keep certain tax provisions alive into next year lest they expire at midnight on Dec. 31. Included in those provisions are extensions of Sections 25C and 179D for at least another year, which provide tax credits for residential and commercial energy efficiency upgrades that incentivize consumers to invest in new HVAC systems. The omnibus is also the last chance to pass the AIM Act which is expected to pave the way for the next generation of refrigerants.
The COVID relief deal, tax extenders package, and AIM Act would be bundled as part of the FY2021 omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the federal government for next year. A continuing resolution keeping the government open through today (Friday, December 18) will be extended just long enough for Congress to finalize a deal and adjourn for the holidays. Your PHCC government affairs team will continue to monitor the situation in Washington and keep you apprised of any updates.
Mark Valentini is the Director of Legislative Affairs for PHCC—National Association. A seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience on Capitol Hill and with several national trade associations, Valentini applies his expertise in public policy, workforce and training, and insurance and tax matters to advocate on behalf of all PHCC members.