The CARES ACT, the largest federal response in U.S. history contained in H.R.748, provides immediate relief to those affected by COVID-19. The bill passed the United States Senate by a vote of 96-0. NCBA was pleased to see that the bill does not specifically include any prohibition on debt collection.
The CARES ACT provides, among other things, medical assistance to our first responders and patients on the front lines, monetary assistance to the middle class and those who have lost their job, relief to small and large businesses who have been forced to shut down, and direct aid to states and municipalities to continue providing essential services.
A few of the major provisions of the legislation that may be helpful to you, your businesses, and employees include:
- For eligible small business, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals, the measure provides loans that can pay for utilities, rent, mortgage, and payroll. The borrower is eligible for loan forgiveness for the first eight weeks of the loan. The Small Business Administrator has no more than 15 days after the date of enactment to issue regulations.
- For eligible businesses that are not small, the measure provides $500 billion to the Treasury’s exchange stabilization fund. This fund will provide loans, loan guarantees, and other investments with direct lending of $25 billion for passenger air carriers, $4 billion for cargo air carriers, and $17 billion for businesses important to maintaining national security. The remaining $454 billion is eligible for direct lending if they meet certain criteria. This includes prohibitions on stock buy backs and the loan must be used to retain at least 90 percent of the workforce.
- For those who lost employment due to the pandemic the measure provides robust unemployment insurance. Self-employed, independent contractors and those with limited work history will be eligible for assistance. The assistance will include an additional $600 per week for each recipient and provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits to those who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits are no longer available.
- In addition, all U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married) are eligible for a full $1,200 (2,400 married) rebate. They are also eligible for an additional $500 per child. Americans will not be required to do anything to receive a rebate check as the IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return or their 2018 return if they have not yet filed. The rebate will reduce by $5 for each $100 of the taxpayer’s income that exceeds $75,000 and completely phases out at $99,000.
- The bill ensuring that all testing for COVID-19 is covered by private insurance plans. Additionally, there will be free coverage of a vaccine within 15 days for COVID-19 when such a vaccine is available.
Our work is not over yet:
While this bill does not specifically include any prohibition on debt collection, the passage of H.R.748 is likely not the last action that the Executive and Legislative branches will undertake. Additional bills and efforts may be added to help defeat the virus and its punishing impact on the health and economic well-being of the nation. Many of you have already participated in our “Call to Action”, this effort is very important and we encourage you to participate if you have not already.
Next Steps for CARES:
Over the coming days and weeks, the Senate and House of Representatives will be working remotely on more measures to assist the American people who have been subject to personal and economic harm through no fault of their own.
H.R.748 now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives. Pursuant to the message sent by House Majority Leader Hoyer, Members of the House will convene at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, March 27th for consideration of H.R.748. He further advised that due to the limited flight options, Members participating in self-quarantine, and several states mandating stay-at-home orders, they expect the bill to pass by voice vote on Friday.