COVID-19 Legislation for Main Street Bailouts

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – PASSED

Eligible workers would receive an additional $600 per week for the next four months, and an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits.

Immediate cash payments of up to $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child will be available to lower and middle-income Americans, beginning to phase out for individuals making over $75,000 per year and $150,000 for a household. The Small Business Relief fund will provide for $349 billion for forgivable loans, $17 billion for debt relief, and $10 billion for immediate disaster grants.

Other resources provided with funds being split among states:

  • More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency Appropriations, Including the Following:
    • Transit Agencies:  Provides $25 billion to transit agencies, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented.  This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency.
    • HUD Emergency Solution Grants:  Provides $2 billion for HUD Emergency Solution Grants to states that will be distributed by formula. These grants are designed to address the impact of the coronavirus among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance.
    • Child Care and Development Block Grant:  Supports child care and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
    • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP):  Provides $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills.
    • Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program:  Provides $850 million for this program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency.
    • CDC Coronavirus State, Local and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards:  Provides about $750 million in CDC State, Local, and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency. In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs.
    • Election Assistance:  Provides $400 million for Election Assistance Grants for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections.  Coronavirus is already resulting in the postponement of some primaries and this funding can help states make voting safer for individuals.  Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting, and expand online registration.

Family First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA ( H.R. 6201) – PASSED

A not well publicized bill called the Family First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA ( H.R. 6201) was passed on March 18, 2020, and takes affect on April 2, 2020.

Generally, the Act provides that covered employers must provide to all employees:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.

More here on this at the US Department of Labor.

Future COVID-19 bailout legislation rumors

Additional Stimulus Check payments

These likely would look and act exactly like the recent $1,200 payments that millions of American’s received if their income was under $75,000 or $150,000 on an “adjusted gross income” calculation.

On April 14, 2020, US Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced the Emergency Money for the People Act to provide additional cash payments for hard-working Americans who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the CARES Act was an important first step, its one-time payment does not provide nearly enough support for American families.

The Emergency Money for the People Act expands relief to more Americans and includes a $2,000 monthly payment to every qualifying American over the age of 16 until employment returns to pre-COVID-19 levels. It also fixes a bug in the CARES Act to ensure college students and adults with disabilities can still receive the payments even if claimed as a dependent.

Small Business Loan Program extension / expansion

As late as April 1, 2020 Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin was saying if small business funding from the $350 billion allocated to it from the CARE Act were to be completely utilized it would be at the top of the legislative list to request additional funding.

As of April 6, 2020 Wells Fargo announced it was suspending applications essentially saying it does not think additional funds are currently available.

As of April 15, 2020 the Small Business Administration said it would run out of money by the afternoon.

Infrastructure Investments

There has been cries for investment into infrastructure like new highway roads, bridges, water lines, power grid for decades now. They have commonly been seen as truly labor intensive ways to put people to work, and typically pay well by job standards. Also commonly believed to be societal benefits to people who may not directly use highways for example as it helps with interstate commerce.

Unemployment extensions probably on the table

In The Great Recession we saw various rounds of additional weeks being granted to State unemployment weeks granted through Federal Government funds. These often came with strings attached to limit funds to hardest hit states. States needed to have certain unemployment rates typically 10% or higher, as these rates fell, the Federal backstop for payments was eliminated, which still left hundreds of thousands without jobs, and no income from unemployment funding being pulled. The longest duration that was ever granted was a maximum threshold of 99 weeks of unemployment.

If this were to be repeated it would amount to a safety net expiration of likely February 2022 for people that found themselves without work for the COVID19 pandemic. If that happens the talks of a V-Shaped recovery which is considered best case are all but lost. We would likely see an economic recession and recovery worse than The Great Recession, and closer to the Great Depression.

Pie in the sky rumors

Advocates like Chegg are pushing for some element of tax incentive for businesses to help their employees pay off student loans. More extreme requests come with outright cancellation of student loan debt (we believe this to be a long shot by any measure).