Senate Close to Pact on $2 Trillion Coronavirus Economic Relief Bill

 

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U.S. Capitol

After several days of heated debate, the U.S. Senate is finalizing the details of the third coronavirus relief bill, which aims to help stabilize the economy and provide funds for distressed small businesses and laid-off workers.

"Small businesses across this country have made it clear: If they're going to keep their lights on and keep their employees on payroll, they need help and they need it now," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "Americans who have already been laid off due to this crisis have made it clear: They need help and they need it now."

According to McConnell, the bill sets four main objectives:

  • Provide emergency cash to individuals and their families.
  • Deliver fast and significant relief to small businesses.
  • Help stabilize the economy and curb layoffs.
  • Rush resources to frontline health care workers.

Democrats have raised concerns about the bill. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., for example, has criticized the bill for including "huge bailouts without protections for people and workers and without accountability." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the U.S. House of Representatives would move forward with its own relief bill while participating in bipartisan negotiations on the Senate bill, according to Politico.

We've rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other trusted media outlets on the news.

Resolving Differences

Senate Republicans expressed frustration with Democrats who blocked a Monday vote on the economic stimulus bill, but lawmakers said they are close to reaching a deal. Politico sources said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has agreed to one of the Democrats' main demands for "strict oversight" of a $500 billion fund that would lend money to businesses and municipalities. As initially proposed, the fund would not be regulated by Congress and Mnuchin would be able to keep information private for six months about who receives loans. "We expect to have an agreement tomorrow morning," Schumer said on Monday. "We still have a few little differences," he said, but he doesn't expect them to "get in the way of a final agreement."

(Politico)

House Democrats Reveal $2.5 Trillion Relief Bill

As Senate negotiations stalled on Monday, Pelosi introduced a 1,400-page House bill, which would require lenders to pause collection of mortgage, auto and credit card payments. Among other relief, the bill would give public housing residents a break from paying rent and student loan borrowers $10,000 in debt forgiveness. The measure would also halt negative consumer credit reporting, foreclosures and evictions. President Donald Trump criticized Democrats for "asking for things that have nothing to do with our great workers or companies." The bill has provisions on federal elections, minimum wage, union regulations and climate change.

(Fortune)

Paid Leave Mandated in Prior Coronavirus Relief Bill

On March 18, Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which will provide paid emergency family leave in limited circumstances, as well as paid sick leave for people affected by COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. In general, the emergency paid-leave provisions in the legislation apply to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but there may be some exceptions available for small businesses and companies that employ health care workers. These provisions take effect April 2 and expire on Dec. 31. The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced a 30-day nonenforcement period for employers that make good faith compliance efforts. The department will focus on compliance assistance during that time. 

(SHRM Online)

First Relief Bill Provided $8.3 Billion in Emergency Funds

Another emergency spending package to fight COVID-19 was signed into law on March 6. The measure will provide funds to develop a vaccine, provide protective and laboratory equipment to workers who need it, and aid locations hit with the virus.

(SHRM Online)

Governments, Large Organizations Offer Help to Small Businesses

The coronavirus is having a devastating effect on small businesses, their owners and employees around the world. Large organizations and cities, counties and states around the U.S. are stepping forward to offer a variety of relief. SHRM Online has collected news stories about aid that is available for small business owners and nonprofits and steps those businesses can take to protect their organization and employees during the global pandemic.

(SHRM Online)

Visit SHRM's resource page on coronavirus and COVID-19.


Join the Society for Human Resource Management and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for a Twitter chat hosted by @ePolicyWorks on March 25 at 2 p.m., using the hashtag #EPWChat to provide input as the DOL develops guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Or participate online at https://ffcra.ideascale.com from March 23 through March 29.

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