• Advocacy Team

COVID-19 Federal Updates: March 19

Updated: Jun 9

Everything you and your business need to know about the federal coronavirus response efforts for March 19, 2020.

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed a multi-billion-dollar aid package, HR 6201, to help those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure is the second of three stimulus packages Congress plans to pass (the first being the $8.3 billion emergency package signed by President Trump on March 6 and second being HR 6201).

Provisions within HR 6201 impacting employers are the expansion of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage and the creation of emergency paid sick leave to employees who cannot work because of coronavirus or the public health emergency surrounding it. To help offset the cost of paid leave, tax credits against quarterly payroll taxes are provided to employers. The leave provisions go into effect no later than 15 days after the date the Act is enacted and will sunset on December 31, 2020.

More on HR 6201:

  • $1 billion to the National Disaster Medical System to cover COVID-related diagnostic testing of uninsured persons.

  • Requires employers who meet a particular set of circumstances to provide paid sick leave to workers impacted by COVID-19. You can read more by clicking this helpful summary.

  • Exempts businesses with more than 500 employees and businesses with fewer than 50 employees if they determine that offering leaves would threaten the viability of their business.

  • Exempts businesses with more than 500 employees and businesses with fewer than 50 employees if they determine that offering leaves would threaten the viability of their business.

  • Carves out an exemption to keep doctors in clinics and paramedics in the field.

  • Includes tax credits intended to defray the costs of the new paid leave requirements. Tax credits would offset not just the 6.2 percent Social Security portion of payroll taxes on affected wages, but also the separate 1.45 percent Medicare tax.

  • Expands SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits to families in need.

The U.S. Senate has begun work on a third relief package which is expected to include a stimulus package developed by the Administration.

Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) and Sen. Susan Collins (ME) held a press conference where they outlined a forthcoming small business stimulus bill. The legislation, The Restoring Economic Security, Confidence and User Endurance (RESCUE) Businesses Act of 2020, will be a $300 billion small business emergency economic relief plan that aims to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Click here to watch a video of the press conference.

U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced Wednesday that 2020 Census field operations would be suspended for two weeks until Wednesday, April 1 in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. In a release, Dillingham also strongly encouraged the public to fill out the 2020 Census online, noting that the census can be completed by using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. The census can also be completed by phone and mail. The planned completion date for data collection for the 2020 Census is July 31, 2020, however, the Census Bureau said that date can be adjusted if necessary in order to achieve an accurate count.

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