Wednesday | March 25, 2020

Scott Votes For Coronavirus Relief Package

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) released the statement below after voting for a massive coronavirus relief package in the United States Senate today. A summary of the bill’s major provisions follows the Senator’s quote. 

“Finally, after days of Democrats playing political games, relief is coming for families, workers, small businesses, and health care professionals across South Carolina and the country,” Senator Scott said. “COVID-19 not only endangers our health, but has also presented the biggest economic challenge our nation has seen in a decade. This package, while not perfect, will provide immediate financial assistance for those in need, help our small businesses keep their doors open, and keep our amazing health care providers safer.”

Scott continued, “We must all come together, from every corner of our state and nation, to stop this coronavirus in its tracks. Listen to the guidance and warnings issued by Governor McMaster and our public health officials. Stay home. Wash your hands. These are steps we can all take, and that are necessary to stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

Summary of Major Provisions (provisions led or coauthored by Senator Scott marked with *)

Help For Individuals and Families

Delivers recovery checks of up to $1,200 for those making less than $75,000, $112,500 as a single head of household, or $150,000 for joint filers

Provides a number of temporary and targeted enhancements to the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system, including $600 weekly plus-ups in payments (for weeks of unemployment through the end of July), expanded eligibility (including for workers generally not covered), and state staffing flexibilities.

Ensures coverage, with no cost-sharing, for an FDA-approved vaccine, once available, under Medicare Part B, and expedites coverage with no cost-sharing under private health plans.

Allows for the use of health savings accounts (HSAs) to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

Advances much-needed regulatory reform for OTC medications, unleashing innovation.

Financial Relief to Students - Allows students affected by COVID-19 to receive emergency financial aid grants to assist undergraduate or graduate students for unexpected expenses and unmet financial need.

Temporary relief for student loan borrowers by deferring federal student loans for 6 months, as well as interest accrued during this period. There is also an income tax exclusion for people who are receiving assistance from their employer to repay their student loans.

Waives required minimum distribution (RMD) rules for 2020 for IRAs and certain defined-contribution retirement plan types.

Waives the 10% early distribution penalty and allows for income taxation over three years for retirement plan distributions lower than $100,000 that are directly related to COVID-19.

Waives nutrition requirements for Older American Act meal programs during the public health emergency related to COVID-19, and $520 million for nutritional services to ensure seniors can get meals.

 

Aid For Small Businesses

Applies technical corrections and clarifications to the Phase II emergency paid leave provisions to address cash-flow and administrative concerns raised by small- and mid-sized employers, potentially mitigating closures and layoffs.*

Provides more than $450 billion to temporarily expand and streamline the existing 7(a) SBA loan program. These loans will be eligible to be used for a variety of different business needs including but not limited to payroll support including paid sick leave and FMLA, insurance premiums, salaries, mortgage/rent, utilities, and interest on existing debt.  The portion of the loan used for payroll costs during the 8-week period following the date of origination, interest payment on any mortgage incurred prior to February 15, 2020, payment of rent on any lease in force prior to February 15, 2020, and payment on any utility for which service began before February 15, 2020.

Includes 501(c)3 non-profits in 7(a) loan program eligibility, which includes aid for churches and houses of worship.*

Appropriates $10 million for the Minority Business Development Agency to provide grants to minority business centers and minority chambers of commerce to assist and provide guidance to all types of minority business enterprises.

Authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury and SBA Administrator to approve additional lenders for the 7(a) program, allowing for more capital to be available. It will also allow financial institutions such as credit unions to assist in the lending effort under 7(a).* 

Enacts the Protecting Critical Services for Mothers and Babies Act, which would help March of Dimes to advance its lifesaving mission by qualifying the organization for the same pension funding rules used by a number of other charities and non-profits, thus ensuring reasonable standards and certainty.*

Protecting Healthcare Workers and Hospitals

Appropriates: 

  • $117 Billion for Hospitals and Veterans Health Care 
  • $45 Billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund 
  • $16 Billion for the Strategic National Stockpile 
  • $4.3 Billion for the Centers for Disease Control 
  • $11 Billion for Vaccines, Therapeutics, Diagnostics, & Other Medical Needs

 

Takes strong steps to address supply chain shortage and security risks for drugs and other medical products through new transparency standards, comprehensive reports, Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) enhancements, and targeted liability reforms for protective respiratory devices.

 Delays DSH payment cuts through November 30th, and provides funding for a number of healthcare extenders, most notably community health centers (CHCs), through the same date. Also provides supplemental funding opportunities for CHCs.

Provides a 20% add-on payment for hospital inpatients presenting with COVID-19 and suspends the Medicare sequestration through 2020.

Supporting Employers and the Food Supply

To help protect our food supply, $9.5 billion in emergency funds is made available for agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19. The bill also provides $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation’s (CCC) borrowing authority.

Provides a collective $61 billion for our struggling airline sector in the form of direct assistance and loan guarantees. Includes the suspension of certain aviation excise taxes until the end of the year. Allows the Treasury Department to make up to $25 billion in loans and loan guarantees for passenger airlines, repair stations and ticket agents, and up to $4 billion for cargo airlines with the caveat that company receiving a loan must maintain its employment levels as of March 24, 2020 till the end of September. 

  • This and other large industry provisions include prohibitions on reducing employment levels by more than 10 percent from that date. Companies that receive grants or loans would also face limits on executives’ compensation and stock buybacks. It also protects taxpayers by establishing strict criteria for such loans, including sufficient loan security; timely program termination; no loan forgiveness; a demonstration that other credit from banks is not available; employment retention; and the Federal Government’s compensation must account appropriately for risk (among others). Finally, it includes strict oversight for large corporations, including the creation of an independent Inspector General and Congressional Oversight Panel.

 

Flexibility For Educational Institutions

 Secures key administrative flexibilities for HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs), in addition to allowing for emergency loan deferment under the HBCU Capital Financing program.*

 

Provides Education Stabilization Fund appropriations, including:

  • $30.9 billion total available through Sept. 30, 2021 to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 pandemic domestically or internationally.
  • $3 billion for State Flexibility Fund to schools most impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $13.5 billion for K-12 Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund for prevention and response to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $14.25 billion for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund for prevention and response to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $1.05 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions
  • $100 million for PROJECT SERV to help elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools clean and disinfect affected schools, and assist in counseling and distance learning and associated costs.
  • Offers the Secretary of Education waiver authority to provide waivers from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, except civil rights laws that are necessary and appropriate due to the COVID-19 declaration of disaster.

 

Waives requirement for institutions to provide a non-Federal share to match title IV federal funds provided to the institution for certain Title IV assistance programs.

 

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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Related Issues:  COVID-19