By Mark Valentini, Director of Legislative Affairs
On Sunday evening, December 27, outgoing President Donald Trump signed the last piece of legislation to cross the Resolute Desk before the end of his term. The FY2021 omnibus spending package to keep the Federal government funded through September 30 included more than $900 billion in COVID relief that has been haggled over by congressional leaders and White House staff for nearly nine months. After vigorous advocacy, PHCC got most of our policy priorities in the bill. Unfortunately, we could not secure liability protections for businesses against frivolous COVID litigation. While it was a priority for Republican Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) the proposal was excluded along with funding for state and local governments for COVID response so that an agreement could be made on the rest of the package.
Nonetheless, PHCC scored a slew of policy victories, including:
- Extension of the Paycheck Protection Program through March 2021;
- Full tax deductibility for qualified expenses paid with PPP funds;
- More eligible expenses, such as personal protective equipment, workplace and IT modifications, and damages from civil unrest;
- Eligibility for participation by 501(c)6 organizations;
- Inclusion of the American Innovation in Manufacturing (AIM) Act, establishing a framework and timeline for transition to the next generation of refrigerants;
- Funding for HVAC maintenance, repair, and upgrades for schools;
- Extension of the Section 25C tax credit for residential energy efficiency modifications through tax year 2021; and
- Permanent extension of the Section 179D tax credit for commercial energy efficiency modifications.
With a slim Democratic majority in Congress, the Biden administration is focused on another COVID package, the American Rescue Plan, that is expected to include an additional $1,200 in stimulus payments to qualified individuals, an increase to $400 per week in federal pandemic unemployment through September 2021, a $15 billion grant program for qualified small businesses separate from the PPP, considerable funding to state and local governments for emergency response and vaccine distribution, and, most concerning to PHCC, an extension of paid employee sick leave through September 2021.
PHCC Legislative Affairs staff will keep you posted on the latest developments once bill language is drafted for the next round of COVID relief. In the meantime, if you missed last week’s webinar hosted by PHCC’s Chuck White and Mark Valentini on updates to the PPP program, you can view it here.
Director of Legislative Affairs , PHCC-National Association