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The Partnership Continues Federal Advocacy for COVID-19 Relief

COVID Relief Legislation

December 22, 2020

COVID Relief Legislation

With the passage of the most recent COVID relief legislation, the nation wraps up 2020 with a bit of breathing room. It does not address every need, but it provides support in various ways. Over the past nine months, The Partnership has heard from Members and Investors, sharing that information with Iowa’s Congressional delegation and sharing the impacts of COVID-19 on DSM USA communities.

The COVID relief measure was passed on Dec. 21 and has been sent to President Trump for his signature. The $900 billion package was attached to a $1.4 trillion spending bill that will fund the federal government through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Though not exhaustive of the entire 5,593-page bill, the $900 million relief package includes funding for the following (key priorities of The Partnership bolded):

  • Small Business Support

    • $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, allowing those eligible to seek a second loan and clarifies that expenses paid using PPP funds are tax deductible
    • Expands eligibility of the PPP program to include 501c6 nonprofit organizations with less than 300 employees and no more than 15% of the organization’s activities are lobbying
    • Provides an additional $20 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants, allowing new applicants and opportunities for previous applicants
    • $15 billion is reserved for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions, also known as the Save our Stages legislative proposal
    • $10 billion for child care centers
  • Individuals Support

    • Up to $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits through mid-March
    • $600 direct payments for adults and children for earners making up to $75,000 and smaller amounts for those making between $75,000 and $99,000
    • $25 billion for rental assistance and an extension of the eviction moratorium through Jan. 31
    • $13 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP)
  • Vaccine Support

    • $68 billion for vaccines and to support testing in states
  • Infrastructure Support

    • $7 billion to increase access to broadband
    • $45 billion for transportation related assistance, including airports ($2 billion), airlines ($16 billion), mass transit ($14 billion), highways ($10 billion) and passenger transportation services ($2 billion)
  • Education Support

    • $82 billion for schools and universities to assist with reopening
    • Repeals the ban on prisoners receiving Pell Grants
  • Agriculture Support

    • $13 billion for farmers and includes language allowing USDA to use funds for biofuels producers
  • Other COVID-related Policy Extensions

    • Employee Retention Tax Credit for COVID is extended for two quarters in 2021
    • Extends a tax exemption for employer-paid student loan payments for five years
    • Paid Sick Leave Tax Credit (established in Families First Act) extended through March
    • Extends the charitable giving deduction boost for one year
    • Provides for five-year extensions to the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, New Markets Tax Credit and the Paid Family/Medical Leave Tax Credit
  • Other Policy Changes

    • Provision ended surprise medical billing, requiring patients receive a “true and honest cost estimate” three days prior to any scheduled procedure
    • The cost of meals (food and beverage) from a restaurant are a deductible business expense in 2021 and 2022 tax years
    • Makes permanent the excise tax cuts for breweries and distillers previously implemented in the Craft Beverage Modernization Act

This will not be the last advocacy effort as it pertains to COVID relief and recovery. The Partnership previously submitted the following letter of support for relief funding and will continue to advocate for the needs of DSM USA.

Letter of Support

Dear Iowa Congressional Delegation,

Thank you for your service, your commitment to Iowans and the work of your staff members over the past nine months. As you enter the final days of the 116th Congress, we ask you to keep pushing and advocating for the Iowans who so desperately need support from a COVID relief package.

While the vaccines are arriving and there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we continue to hear from our Members and Investors the need for additional COVID relief to minimize the impacts to our communities. While the effects will be long-lasting beyond the day when the pandemic has ended, investment now will ensure our region, state and country are stronger in recovery.

At the start of the pandemic, The Partnership identified three short-term strategic goals — keep businesses in business, keep people working and keep the community healthy. These goals are as vital now as they were then. The current bipartisan proposals on the table may not cover everything, but it is necessary to do as much as we can as quickly as we can to help our community. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said, partial agreement is better than no agreement.

Included in the bipartisan proposals and negotiations, The Partnership continues to support the Paycheck Protection Program and access for targeted industries, funding for vaccine development and distribution, extension of unemployment assistance and funding to address lost revenues to state and local governments. From additional funding support for particularly hard-hit industries such as independent live venue operators and those in the creative economy to 501c6 organizations working to support the business community each and every day, we implore you and your colleagues to find agreement. Beyond funding, businesses are in need of additional liability reforms that provide protections in the Safe to Work Act, which supplements the protections already provided by Iowa law. While we realize not everything will be included in the final legislation, let us enter 2021 with the resources and tools to begin rebuilding our communities.

Thank you for your work and as always, if we can help in any way, please let us know.

Sincerely,

Greater Des Moines Partnership
24 Affiliate Chambers in 10 Iowa Counties
6,500+ Members and 365+ Investors