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COVID-19 Legislation

Thursday, March 26, 2020
By: Daniel Walker

For more information, please contact Daniel Walker

Summary of Recently Passed Legislation Regarding COVID-19 and Employer / Employee Benefits

As of March 20, 2020, Congress has passed 2 pieces of legislation regarding COVID-19.  Phase 1,H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, focused on emergency public health needs and an initial round of funds for the Small Business Administration to increase Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) in states where an emergency has been declared.  Phase 2, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Actcontains two different laws: 1) the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and 2) the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.  These include additional paid leave requirements for employers with fewer than 500 employees. The Department of Labor has the authority to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from each Act’s leave requirements.  Both Acts expire at the end of 2020.  For a detailed discussion of these provisions, including the available tax credits, please see COVID-19 Resource Page. 

Phase 3 – Economic Stimulus Package Discussions Underway

As of March 24, 2020, the White House, House Democrats and Senate Republicans are still in discussions on what will be included in the Phase 3 economic stimulus package.  The focus of Phase 3 will be direct financial assistance for individuals, loans/grants to small businesses, tax relief provisions for businesses, and additional funds for government agencies.  A detailed summary of the final legislation will be provide ASAP.

What about tariff relief?

There have been calls from the business community for the removal, if only temporarily, of the Administration’s 232 steel / aluminum tariffs and the 301 China tariffs.  The Administration stated on March 18 that it did not feel that action was warranted at this time except for exclusions for some essential medical equipment from China.  There are still several members of Congress that believe that tariff relief would inject cash into U.S. business’ hands and it is still possible that Phase 3 will contain language regarding tariffs.