Coronavirus Relief Update

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Aindriu Colgan | NSWA Vice President, Governmental Affairs

Coronavirus Relief Update

The window for applying for small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program ended this week. As of the end of last week, the program had facilitated nearly 5 million loans totaling more than $518 million. That leaves potentially $134 billion in loan funds unused. Recognizing that fact, the Senate just unanimously passed legislation to give small business until August 8 to apply for loans under the program. The House will have to pass the legislation as well for it to take effect.

Lawmakers are also trying to make the program more attractive and less burdensome to business owners. Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO) just introduced legislation that would require the Treasury Department and SBA develop a free calculator for lenders and loan recipients to determine loan forgiveness amounts. 

On the other hand, the Trump Administration announced that it would not extend the July 15 tax deadline any further; taxpayers, however can still file for an automatic extension to October 15.

Additionally, supplemental unemployment benefits of $600 a week are set to expire on July 31, 2020, creating a deadline for lawmakers to hammer out another coronavirus relief package before leaving for the August recess. Both the Administration and Senate Republicans have warmed to the idea of further relief or a stimulus package, but it will likely be significantly smaller than the $3 trillion package passed by House Democrats. One factor in that decision will be the June jobs reports, which Senate Republicans are insisting on seeing before beginning to negotiate any further relief or stimulus.

House Democrats Release Climate Report

This week, House Democrats released the 547 page report from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The partisan report, which includes no input from Republican committee members, proposes putting a price on carbon dioxide, eliminating emissions from vehicles within 15 years and from power plants within 20, and achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Additionally, the report demands net zero emissions from public lands and waters by 2040, including a minimum one-year moratorium on new oil, gas, and coal leases on public lands. To help fossil fuel communities weather the shift to a green economy, the report proposes significant investments in these communities to help them transition into other economic opportunities, including those in the renewable energy sector.

Many of the report’s recommendations have already been included in legislation proposed or introduced by House Democrats, including the Clean Future Act from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the GREEN Act from the Ways and Means Committee, and the INVEST in America Act from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which the House is voting on this week. The $1.5 trillion Invest in America Act focuses significant investments in green energy and transportation infrastructure and environmental justice. The White House has already issued a veto threat for the package, and Senate Republicans are unlikely to consider it either.

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