After rumors indicated that Republicans in the U.S. Senate were to release a coronavirus relief package this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has now said he intends to unveil the bill on Monday, pointing to the White House as the reason behind the delay. During a Senate floor speech on Thursday, McConnell stated, "the administration has requested additional time to review the fine details, but we will be laying down this proposal early next week. We have an agreement in principle on the shape of this package.” Despite the lack of official bill text, top-line funding figures and key provisions have been trickling out of Congressional offices throughout the week. While not final, the GOP package is expected to:
- Extend the end date that states and localities can use $150 billion in “Coronavirus Relief Funds” from the CARES Act from December 30, 2020, to 90 after the last day of a government’s fiscal year 2021.
- Expand allowable uses of funds to cover revenue shortfalls, the period of which you can cover is March 1st, 2020 to the last day of the government’s fiscal year 2021.
- Conditions for that money include a requirement that the government has to distribute as least 50% of the money it has received to downstream governments.
- Recipients also cannot use funds for pensions and post-employment benefits or for replenishing rainy-day funds.
- Recipients cannot oppose additional restrictions on downstream governments for the disbursement of funds.
The Senate GOP’s proposed legislation is also likely to: provide a new round of direct payments to Americans, but with lower income restrictions; include liability protections for schools and businesses; designate funds to upgrade state-level coronavirus testing capacity; provide additional Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses; allow monies for schools as they seek to restart operations; and a provision to provide flexibility for the use of state aid.
The delay and differences within some Republican ranks has given way for Democrats to push for their $3 trillion spending bill – the HEROES Act – which was passed in mid-May by the House of Representatives. The HEROES Act contains a very significant amount of monies to be directed to local governments, among other provisions.
Click here for a full summary of the expected provisions in the package.