Congressional leaders came to an agreement on a coronavirus relief funding bill and agreement to fund the government until October 1st of 2021. The overall package includes $900 billion in virus relief funds. In this plan, stimulus spending is attached to a $1.4 trillion omnibus bill to fund the government for fiscal year 2021. This brings the overall cost of the package to $2.3 trillion.
Stimulus checks: This legislation will give direct payments to individuals. The payments will be up to $600 per adult and per child.
Unemployment benefits: Two expiring CARES Act programs (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation), which provided additional weeks of benefits, were extended for 11 weeks. That timeline will set another key deadline to stop the programs from expiring in early March of next year. In addition, Congress will add $300 to all weekly unemployment benefits. Workers who rely on multiple jobs and have lost income will also be eligible for a weekly $100 boost as well.
Support for small businesses: The Paycheck Protection Program received an infusion $284 billion in new funds. Businesses that already received a PPP loan will be eligible to get a second loan under the new terms. Some of the PPP funds will be set aside for the smallest businesses and community-based lenders.
Additionally, the deal provides $9 billion in emergency Treasury capital investments for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs. It also provides $20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) grants for smaller businesses.
Live venues will receive much-needed direct help. $15 billion of the new relief bill is dedicated to funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. They’ll be in the form of grants.
Housing assistance: The bill extends the eviction moratorium that is set to expire at the end of the year through the end of January. Also, the bill includes an enhancement of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to increase the supply for affordable housing construction.
Education: The bill includes several provisions addressing elementary, secondary, and higher education. It would provide $82 billion in funds for schools and colleges to help them safely reopen classrooms and prevent virus transmission.
Testing: The agreement includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, $8 billion for vaccine distribution, $20 billion for states to conduct testing, and $20 billion in extra federal relief for health-care providers.
Federal Reserve: This round of relief language will close four Fed lending facilities: The Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Main Street Lending Program and the Municipal Credit Facility. Unspent funding for those programs under the CARES Act will be repurposed.
Notable Omissions: There is no direct restaurant aid. We supported the RESTAURANTS Act 2020 and hoped to see the food, drink, and tourism industries receive direct aid. A concerted effort will be made to reserve PPP dollars for those business sectors. However, there appears to be a tax break where businesses can deduct restaurant meals. The idea is that a 100% tax deduction on meals will help stimulate the food and drink industry.
Executive Order 183
Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 183 allows businesses to sell sealed mixed alcoholic drinks for to-go or delivery orders. Businesses like restaurants, hotels, bars, clubs and some distilleries can sell the mixed beverages, provided all restrictions and guidelines are followed. The order went into effect on 12/20/2020 at 5:00PM and will remain in effect until 1/31/2021 unless the Order is amended. You can read the Order in its entirety here.