Will New Year Bring New COVID-19 Relief Programs?

Will New Year Bring New COVID-19 Relief Programs?

Will New Year Bring New COVID-19 Relief Programs?

Will New Year Bring New COVID-19 Relief Programs?

<strong>Will New Year Bring New COVID-19 Relief Programs?</strong>

Author: Edward "Teddy" Eynon|December 14, 2020

With key COVID-19 relief programs scheduled to expire at the end of the year, the pressure is on Congress to reach a deal. While it’s still unclear what the next few weeks will bring, a recently announced bipartisan proposal for $908 billion in COVID-19 aid is a good sign.

COVID-19 Programs Expiring in 2020

Several COVID-19 relief programs are scheduled to expire at the end of the month. They include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provide expanded benefits to unemployed workers. Moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures are also ending on December 31, 2020.

COVID-19 relief for borrowers with federal student loans also terminates at the end of the month. The relief paused federal student loan payments and collections through the end of the year and imposed a temporary 0% interest rate on federally-owned student loans. Additionally, previous COVID-19 relief bills relaxed several requirements for retirement accounts.  Those impacted by the pandemic could withdraw up to $100,000 from a 401(k) or individual retirement account until without facing the 10% penalty. Retirees age 72 and older were also able to forgo their 2020 required minimum distributions.

Proposed COVID-19 Relief Framework

On December 1, 2020, a group of Republican and Democratic Senators announced a bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 emergency relief framework. The lawmakers working on the proposed COVID-19 relief package includes Rep. Tom Reed of New York and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; as well as Democrats: Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both of New Hampshire, and Mark Warner of Virginia; and one independent, Sen. Angus King of Maine.

A breakdown of the COVID-19 emergency relief framework can be found here. Of particular interest to the business community, the plan includes $288 billion in aid for small businesses, including additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funding. The business relief would also include subsidies for airlines, airports, transit, and other transportation industries, as well as targeted relief for the restaurant industry.

The COVID-19 proposal also includes a liability shield for businesses and other organizations that would protect them from COVID-19 related suits on a “short-term” basis. COVID-10 liability protection has been a top priority for Republicans, and this is the first time that Democrats have expressed any willingness to include it in a relief plan.

What’s Next?

Right now, the bi-partisan group has only released a framework, with the full text of the legislation expected within the next week. Until then, we won’t know how the $908 billion will be specifically allocated and how the proposed legal protections for businesses would work.

While the introduction of a bipartisan proposal is certainly good news given the months-long standoff between the two parties, any COVID-19 relief legislation will need support from leadership on both sides of the aisle to get across the finish line. So far, only the Senate’s top Democrats have endorsed the plan. Of course, President Donald Trump must also sign the final bill.

The likelihood of compromise is lessened by the fact that control of the Senate is still up for grabs. While the Democrats hold the presidency and the House, Senate control will not be determined until two run-off elections are completed in Georgia.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Edward “Teddy” Eynon, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

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About Author Edward "Teddy" Eynon

Edward "Teddy" Eynon

Edward “Teddy” Eynon is Managing Partner of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Washington, D.C. office. Teddy regularly represents clients in numerous government-related matters, including public policy, energy and environment, budget, defense, healthcare, financial services, transportation & infrastructure, congressional investigations, and oversight issues.

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