Key issues in the Phase Four federal legislation that could impact your business

Talks for the Phase Four coronavirus legislative package are still ongoing as the package was introduced in the Senate last week. The U.S. Chamber has prepared a side-by-side analysis of this legislation with the House-passed HEROES Act, as well as the U.S. Chamber’s priorities.  Below are some of the high-points of the document but you can access the entire analysis HERE!

Liability Protection Against Unwarranted Lawsuits 

  • Provisions are only included in the Senate bill, including protections from COVID-19-related exposure liability for those entities that follow applicable federal, state, or local government guidelines related to COVID-19.
  • Protects healthcare workers and facilities from medical liability claims arising out of the provision of COVID-19 care or other care affected by COVID-19.

Support for Small and Midsize Employers 

  • Paycheck Protection Program loans (PPP):  
    • Proposed Senate bill would add more entities, like Chambers of Commerce, to PPP eligibility. 
    • Adds a second round of PPP loans 
  • Expanding Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) 
  • Hiring Tax Credit (Expansion of Work Opportunity Tax Credit): provides a $5,000 tax credit for the hiring or rehiring of unemployed individuals through 12/31/20. 
  • Protection for Remote Workers 

Support for Childcare and K-12 Schools 

  • Provides $10 billion for new “Back to Work Childcare Grants.” Grants provide up to 9 months of financial aid to reopen and maintain operations, including covering unbudgeted COVID related costs and fixed costs. 
  • K-12 and higher ed: Provides money for educational providers, including for the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund; the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund; and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. 

Unemployment and Job Training 

  • The House and Senate plans, and the Chamber recommendations vary from continuing the $600 unemployment benefit, to decreasing it to $200 short-term and giving claimants up to $500 per week to match 70% of their former income. 
  • Reimbursement for government agency and nonprofit unemployment insurance – extensions and or increases proposed. 
  • There is no current provision to support state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds 
    • U.S. Chamber recommendation: In order to avoid near-term automatic per employee tax increases, Congress should provide aid to depleted state Unemployment Insurance trust funds.
  • Job Placement, Training, Assistance: $1.3 to $2 billion proposal to increase or fund a combination of new and existing programs, with the difference in the proposals coming from the separate chambers. 

State and Local Assistance 

  • Additional funding for state and local governments is included in both plans but some provisions including allowing state and local governments to use the funding to address shortfalls.