On July 27, U.S. Senate Republicans released a package of coronavirus relief bills, known collectively as the HEALS Act. In total, each individual Republican bill is said to authorize approximately $1 trillion in new spending.
The proposals mark the party's starting point in negotiations with U.S. House Democrats, who remain united behind the $3 trillion Heroes Act that passed the House in May.
Provisions in the U.S. Senate HEALS Act that are of particular interest and importance to the Greater Cleveland business community include:
1. More flexibility (additional eligible expenses) to the PPP
2. Simplified PPP application process for loans under $150k
3. Set-aside of $25B for entities employing 10 or fewer employees for PPP loans
4. Set-aside of $10B for community financial institutions for PPP loans
5. Expanded eligibility for PPP to include 501(c)(6) organizations
6. Short-term assistance to child care centers, resources to states to help child care providers reopen and stay open
7. 5-year safe harbor from liability for coronavirus exposure so long as the entity followed some set of applicable public-health guidelines
Provisions in the House HEROES Act that are of particular interest and importance to the Greater Cleveland business community include:
1. $1.5B to close the homework gap by providing funding for Wi-Fi hotspots and connected devices for students and library patrons, and $4B for emergency home connectivity needs
2. $10B in grants to small businesses
3. $15.75B for operating assistance grants to support transit agencies that require significant additional assistance to maintain basic transit services
4. A carve out of 25% of the existing PPP funds to be used specifically for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees
5. $10B set aside of PPP loans for community financial institutions
6. $5B in funding for E-Rate support for Wi-Fi hotspots, equipment, and devices to students and teachers to help keep them in the digital classroom
7. Benefit for broadband services for households that meet certain eligibility criteria
Among other issues that are of great importance to the Greater Cleveland Partnership also includes providing a long-term or permanent extension of the New Markets Tax Credit program. Increasing program allocations to aid and accelerate economic recovery is of critical importance.
The CARES Act’s $600 per week unemployment bonus is set to expire this week. Congress may complete action on a relief initiative within the next few days to allow both chambers their traditional August recess.