The following is a summary by Winning Strategies Washington on the latest guidance from federal departments and agencies related to the CARES Act.
This week in Washington saw significant strides on implementing CARES Act provisions, with federal departments and agencies issuing guidance on various programs. For example, the SBA and Treasury Department released initial funding to be distributed through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It is already clear that need will outstrip demand quickly on a wide variety of programs, so Congress and the Administration are already discussing Phase Four and even Phase Five aid packages – and are hearing from a broad array of constituencies weighing in forcefully on critical needs.
COVID-19 Telehealth Program
The FCC released guidance this week describing how healthcare providers can apply for money from a $200 million fund created to help them improve telehealth and mHealth programs to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. The program aims to give providers the resources for improving connected health programs to patients in their homes and other remote locations. The funds will be used for telemedicine equipment, broadband connectivity and other resources.
New and Expanded Lending Programs to Provide up to $2.3 Trillion in Financing
On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced the establishment of a Main Street Business Lending Program and a Municipal Liquidity Facility to support the flow of credit to American workers, businesses, States, counties, and cities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Using funds provided by the CARES Act, Treasury will make a $75 billion equity investment in a special purpose vehicle established to implement the Main Street Business Lending Program. This investment will enable up to $600 billion in new financing for small and medium-sized businesses – those with up to 10,000 employees or $2.5 billion in 2019 annual revenues.
Guidance on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Also this week, the Department of Labor announced the publication of Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) 16-20 providing guidance to states for implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which established as part of the CARES Act. Under PUA, individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are unable to continue working as a result of COVID-19, such as self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers, are eligible for PUA benefits. Information on PUA and other coronavirus-related actions at the Department of Labor is available here.
$6+ Billion in Emergency Cash Grants for College Students Impacted by Coronavirus Outbreak
On Friday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that more than $6 billion will be distributed immediately to colleges and universities to provide direct cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. Students can use the funds for expenses like course materials, technology, housing, food, health care, and childcare.
Congress and Phase Four Coronavirus Package
Congressional Leaders and the Administration continue work on a Phase Four coronavirus response package, with Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats each introducing their own versions this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to move a $250 billion small business package, mainly focused on shoring up the Paycheck Protection Program, while Senate Democrats presented a plan that would include hospitals and local governments, along with small business aid. On Thursday, both bills failed to get the support necessary to proceed, and Phase Four coronavirus package negotiations will continue among Congressional leaders. Your WSW team will continue to monitor the Phase Four coronavirus package discussions and update.
President Trump Preparing to Launch 2nd Coronavirus Task Force Focused on the Economy
Administration officials signaled President Trump will launch a second coronavirus task force aimed at reopening the economy. The task force will most likely include the private sector and Administration officials from the National Economic Council, the Departments of Treasury, Labor and Commerce.