Senator Collins Votes to Advance Sweeping COVID-19 Emergency Legislation to Save American Jobs, Support Workers, and Strengthen our Health System

The bill includes a section Senator Collins co-authored providing $377 billion to help small businesses and their employees

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ floor remarks.  Click HERE for a high-resolution video.

 

Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of her colleagues in voting 96-0 last night to advance a $2 trillion emergency economic relief package that will protect the health and the livelihoods of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Senator Collins also included a provision that will help keep grocery store shelves stocked and speed the supply of emergency medical supplies by allowing states to issue special permits for overweight vehicles and loads.  These permits are allowed during most emergencies and disasters, but pandemics were not included in current law.

 

“For American workers, American small businesses, and American families, relief is on the horizon. This legislation will bolster our health care system, strengthen our medical professionals and first responders, shore up our economy and American workers and businesses, support those who are unemployed, and help prevent millions of Americans from losing their jobs,” said Senator Collins.  “I am pleased that the Senate has come together in a bipartisan fashion to advance this critical bill that will provide desperately needed relief to the American people.”

 

The legislation includes a $377 billion emergency economic relief plan co-authored by Senator Collins to allow small businesses to continue to pay their workers.  The provision, which Senator Collins developed as a leader of the Small Business Task Force along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), would provide federally guaranteed emergency loans to small businesses that are experiencing a sharp drop in revenue due to COVID-19.  These loans would be forgiven so long as employers keep their workers on payroll.  Click HERE for a fact sheet on the provision.

 

In addition, the bill includes two bills Senator Collins authored that will support our health care system.

 

 

  • Second, it includes the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act, legislation Senator Collins introduced that will allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants and others to certify patients for home health services.

 

The $2 trillion COVID-19 emergency relief package will help Americans by:

 

  • Putting cash directly into the hands of Americans who are hurting;
  • Delivering rapid relief to small businesses so Americans can continue to receive much-needed paychecks and these small businesses stay afloat;
  • Stabilizing key industries to avoid massive layoffs;
  • Sending new resources to our medical professionals who are on the frontlines delivering care for Americans.

 

Appropriates $330 billion in federal funding across the federal government.  

 

Highlights of the appropriations include:

 

Rebate Checks

 

  • Includes tax rebates to individuals of $1,200 and $2,400 for married couples.  This amount increases by $500 for every child.  Completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $136,500 for head of household filers, and $198,000 for joint filers. 

 

Transportation and Housing Programs

 

 

Health Care

 

·        $130 billion for hospitals and other health providers: 

·        $20 billion for veterans health care needs;

·        $4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Maine will receive at least $5.1 million;

·        $1.32 billion for Community Health Centers;

·        $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile for critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE);

·        $250 million for Hospital Preparedness Grants;

·        $200 million for CMS to assist nursing homes with infection control;

·        $500 million for senior nutrition services;

·        $100 million for family caregivers;

·        $180 million to support rural critical access hospitals, rural telehealth programs, and poison control centers.

 

Education Stabilization Fund

 

  • $30.75 billion for states, school district, and institutions of higher education for costs related to COVID-19. Of this:

 

o   $13.5 billion for K-12 education, distributed by formula to states and passed to school districts for coronavirus-response activities (ex: planning/coordinating during long-term school closures; purchasing educational technology).

o   $14.3 billion for institutions of higher education (public, private non-profit, and for-profit). Funds may be used to defray COVID-19 related expenses (ex: lost revenue, technology costs, and grants to students for food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care). Half of the funds must be used to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations.

 

  • Student loan payments are suspended through Sept. 30, 2020. No interest will accrue during this time. 

 

Fisheries

 

·        $300 million for assistance to tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants affected by COVID-19, which may include direct relief payments. 

 

Other

 

·        $45 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund

·        $400 million in additional FEMA federal assistance, including $100 million for Assistance to Firefighters Grants for the purchase of PPE.

·        $1 billion for Community Services Block Grants

·        $900 million for LIHEAP

·        $8.8 billion for Child Nutrition Programs, $15.81 billion for SNAP, and $450 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program

·        $9.5 billion for agriculture producers

·        $3.5 billion for Child Care Development Block Grant

 

Unemployment Insurance

 

  • Creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through Dec. 31, to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others).
  • Includes an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipient for up to four months.
  • Includes an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through Dec. 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after state unemployment is no longer available.

 

Tax Issues

 

  • QIPs Fix. Includes the legislative fix for QIPs that has impacted restaurants and stores.  An error in TCJA created a 39 year depreciation schedule for QIPs, which are improvements made to the interior of a nonresidential building after the building was first placed into service. 

 

  • Charitable Deduction Changes.  Encourages Americans to contribute to churches and charitable organizations in 2020 by permitting them to deduct up to $300 of cash contributions, whether they itemize or not.  Also increases the limitations on deductions for charitable contributions by individuals who itemize, as well as corporations.

 

  • Excise tax exemption for distillers who use alcohol to make hand sanitizer in 2020.

 

  • Employee Retention Tax Credit to companies that retain employees on payroll and cover 50% of workers’ paychecks.

 

Air Carriers and Contractors

 

  • Provides $32 billion in financial assistance that shall exclusively be used for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries, and benefits to passenger air carries 

 

Other Major Emergency Relief Highlights

 

  • $500 billion to Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund to provide loans, loan guarantees, and other investments. 

 

  • $454 billion for loans, loan guarantees, and investments in support of the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities to eligible businesses, states, and municipalities.

 

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