As you are aware, federal, state and local governments are implementing measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Already Congress has passed – and the President has signed – two relief packages, the Administration has waived or relaxed a number of regulations and is considering additional requests and Congress is currently working on a Phase III stimulus package – which is almost certainly only the beginning of multiple stimulus/relief packages in the coming weeks and months. Virtually every industry and sector of the economy is seeking or will seek financial assistance and/or regulatory relief from Congress and the Administration.
As such, the Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney Federal Government Relations team is tracking the rapidly evolving developments very closely. On Thursday March 19, 2020 Senate Republicans unveiled their $1 trillion+ Phase III stimulus package. Senate Democrats also have their own version in the form of a $750 billion proposal. Each package reflects differing approaches and negotiations between the two sides have begun to reach a compromise package that will also have the support of the House of Representatives and the President so passage can occur as early as the beginning of next week. The following are brief summaries of the Senate Republican bill, the Senate Democratic plan, priorities of House Democrats, regulatory actions taken by the Administration, and a number of other proposals put forth by various businesses and industries:
Small Business Interruption Loans – provisions include: $300 billion loan program for businesses with 500 employees, waiver of matching funds requirement under the Women’s Business Center Program and loan forgiveness.
Relief for Individuals, Families and Business – provisions include: recovery checks of $1,200 for single tax payers and $2,400 for couples phasing out for those earning more than $75,000 and more than $150,000 respectively, delay of estimated tax payments for corporations until after October 15, 2020, employer payroll tax delay, and changes in business interest limitations
Assistance to Severely Distressed Sectors of the U.S. Economy – provisions include: $208 billion in collateralized loans and loan guarantees for passenger air carriers ($50 billion), cargo air carriers ($8 billion) and other eligible entities ($150 billion).
Health Care Response – provisions include: temporary Medicare increases for hospitals, increased funding for health centers ($1.3 billion), allow labs and hospitals the ability to quickly develop a test for the coronavirus, and increased flexibility for telehealth use under Medicare.
The proposal includes $400 billion in emergency appropriations and $350 billion to increase benefits for safety net programs with the bulk of funds going to hospitals and other health care workers, small businesses, unemployment insurance, and additional employee benefits. Additionally, Senate Democrats have expressed deep concern with simply providing industries with direct funding and/or loans without restrictions on how the funds may be used, like no stock buybacks.
Priorities include: additional unemployment insurance payments, expanded Medicaid coverage, additional food security measures, relief for homeowners and renters, support for small businesses, and an airline package.
Sampling of Regulatory Actions and Other Proposals
U.S. Department of Transportation – recently expanded the trucking exemption to allow additional truck drivers to bypass hours of service regulations to help with the supply chain for essential goods and critical supplies.
Hospitals, Doctors and Nurses – not only requesting critical supplies like masks, gowns, gloves, and respirators, financial assistance due to a reduction of elective procedures and nonessential care.
Oil and Gas – the impacts are on the upstream, midstream and downstream activities. The Administration has proposed low interest government loans to shale companies and a $2.5 billion purchase of oil to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The industry has requested actions like economy wide measures to support workers, delay of selling oil supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and temporary waivers of the Jones Act.
Tariffs – many industries have called on the Administration to lift the current tariffs.
Manufacturers – requesting $1.4 trillion in interest free loans for affected companies. Special consideration within the manufacturing sector is being given to companies involved in the making of critical national defense products, including whole systems and components which go into those systems.
Your Business or Industry Supply Chain – as the above action by the Department of Transportation highlights, additional actions will be required to ensure there is not a serious disruption to the supply chain. What specific regulatory action would help your business or industry?
Travel and Transportation Industries – casinos, hotels, cruise lines, Amtrak/transit, rental car companies, and others have requested some of the following relief: direct cash payments, deferred taxes, special bankruptcy protections, loans, and loan guarantees.
Restaurants, Retailers, Bars and Malls – are all making requests similar to the Travel and Transportation Industries.
The Federal Government Relations team has been tracking the development of these rapidly evolving legislative packages, proposals and requests from industry and the various business sectors. All of the aforementioned entities will be impacted by the legislative and regulatory actions already implemented and those forthcoming. Buchanan’s Federal Government Relations team stands ready to assist you in protecting your interests through direct legislative or regulatory intervention/lobbying or even just monitoring almost hourly evolving issues and proposals of importance to your business and/or industry.