Because Time is of the Essence
Charitable nonprofits have as little as a few days to influence the outcome of the COVID relief legislation that congressional leaders and administration officials are currently negotiating. This special edition provides up-to-date information on the big issues being negotiated, the broad nonprofit community priorities, and advocacy action items for nonprofits.
The State of Play
On July 27, Senate Republicans introduced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability, and Schools Act (HEALS Act), setting the stage to begin negotiations with House Democrats over the substantive terms of a COVID relief bill. The $1 trillion HEALS Act is starkly different from the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) the House passed on May 15. Neither bill is expected to be enacted in its original form. This chart compares the competing proposals in the House-passed HEROES Act and the newly introduced Senate HEALS Act. After several false starts, it appears that the lead negotiators – Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, White House Chief of Staff Meadows, House Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Democratic Leader Schumer – started making some progress over the weekend.
The big issues outlined in last week’s edition of Nonprofit Advocacy Matters remain the greatest obstacles to agreement, albeit even more critical with the expiration of extended unemployment benefits and the eviction moratorium. Democrats remain committed to maintenance of the extended unemployment benefits and eviction protection, as well as considerable funding for state and local governments, support for childcare programs, and increased money for food programs. Republicans seek extending unemployment benefits at a much lower level and duration, and insist on inclusion of liability protections for employers that reopen for business. Both parties reportedly are willing to include hazard pay for essential workers but differ on who would be eligible.
The Broad Nonprofit Community Asks
The new Nonprofit Community Letter, signed by more than 4,000 organizations from all 50 states, provides updated legislative priorities in four subject areas:
- Continue Emergency Funding Programs: (1) Extend and expand the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) by enabling a second round of funding for all nonprofits and modifying the eligibility criteria pertaining to 500 employees; (2) Enact and expand grant and funding programs, such as the proposed WORK NOW Act or the Employee Retention Tax Credit, to help nonprofits retain employees, scale service delivery, and create new jobs; and (3) Appropriate funds for federal grant programs that enable nonprofits to advance their missions of serving communities.
- Provide Low-Cost Loans to Mid-Size and Larger Nonprofits: (1) Authorize and require the Federal Reserve to quickly finalize a nonprofit lending facility under MSLP that is tailored to accommodate mid-size nonprofits including language similar to H.R. 6800 that offers a loan forgiveness option; and (2) Extend eligibility of PPP to all nonprofits of all sizes similar to H.R. 6800 and lift the loan cap to appropriately reflect the operational needs of these nonprofits.
- Strengthen Charitable Giving Incentives: (1) Expand the above-the-line or universal charitable deduction in the CARES Act by enacting the provisions in S. 4032/H.R. 7324 increasing the amount to one-third of the standard deduction; and (2) Extend this and the giving incentives enacted in the CARES Act through 2021.
- Provide Full Unemployment Benefit Reimbursement: Increase the federal unemployment insurance reimbursement for self-insured (reimbursing) nonprofits to 100% of costs.
Taking Action Now
For Better. Or Get Worse.
The long struggle to influence the next, probably last, COVID relief legislation is nearly over. Conventional wisdom has it that a deal will be struck by the end of the week or a few days later. To make the bill better, nonprofits must take action today, August 3, and in the coming days to ensure the COVID relief bill is made better – for the people we serve, for the sustainability of our organizations, and for our communities. Take any/all of the following activities – time is truly limited:
Special Actions with Senators
Thirty Senators signed the Lankford/King bipartisan letter to Senate leaders stating that Congress must include nonprofit provisions in the COVID relief bill to “ensure that charitable nonprofits are fully supported in their service on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis.”
ACTION ITEM: Reach out to these Senators and urge them to stress to their leaders – McConnell and Schumer – that the nonprofit priorities must be included in the final bill.
States/Senators: AK – Sullivan; AZ – McSally & Sinema; AR – Boozman; CA – Harris; CT – Blumenthal; CO – Gardner; DE – Coons; GA – Loeffler; HI – Schatz; KS – Moran; ME – King; MI – Peters; MN – Klobuchar & Smith; MS – Hyde-Smith; MT – Daines & Tester; NJ – Booker; NM – Heinrich & Udall; NC – Burr & Tillis; ND – Hoeven & Cramer; OK – Lankford; OR – Merkley; SC – Scott; SD – Rounds; and VA – Kaine.
Special Actions with Representatives
Urge your Representative to sign onto new Moulton/Fitzpatrick letter to House leaders that calls for inclusion of the nonprofit provisions in the next COVID relief package in order to “directly help charitable nonprofits respond to the fallout from this pandemic and continue to serve our communities in its aftermath.” See original Moulton/Fitzpatrick letter signed by 144 Representatives. Today, reach out to your Representative and deliver this message:
Please join Reps. Moulton (D-MA) and Fitzpatrick (R-PA) in sending an updated letter to House Leadership requesting that charitable nonprofits on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response receive critical relief in the next COVID-19 relief legislation. The deadline to sign the letter is COB Tuesday, August 4. Please contact Olivia Hussey with Rep. Moulton or Joseph Knowles with Rep. Fitzpatrick if you would like to sign on or have any questions.
General Action Items