On March 10th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill aimed at supporting the economy’s recovery efforts. Most notably, the bill provided for another round of stimulus checks for individuals and families with household earnings at selected rates. However, the bill also included a number of other economic injections which should be further discussed.
With the success seen from the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program, the new bill addresses funding concerns by injecting $7.25 billion into the program. While PPP has made great contributions to help sustain American businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, a number of issues still remained. One of those was a lack of inclusion of large nonprofits and online-only news outlets, both of which will now qualify for PPP assistance. The forgivable loan program itself is still set to expire on March 31st with over $100 billion still available.
An additional $15 billion has been set aside for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance program, now called the Targeted EIDL Advance program. This cash infusion will support the EIDL and Economic Injury Disaster Loans that were once underfunded. Community Navigator Grants will also be given to organizations that help small businesses navigate all the assistance programs. The bill provided $100 million for grants and $75 million for outreach and education efforts.
Another $10 billion was put towards a reauthorized State Small Business Credit Initiative program. This was money given to states as part of the 2010 Small Business Jobs Act that, in turn, used the money as seed funds to leverage private investment through either backstopping loans or providing startup capital. A restaurant relief fund was also established and will be funded by $28.6 billion through an SBA grant. Five billion will be set aside for restaurants with less than $500,000 in 2019 revenue, along with other stipulations. Both the SBA EIDL targeted advances and the restaurant grants have been exempted from taxation.
An additional $1.25 billion was provided for the SBA shuttered venue operators grant program. Congress has since fixed an issue with the program which did not allow a business to apply for a venue grant and a PPP loan. While the program itself received $15 billion in December, it has yet to open. The bill will also continue the employee retention tax credit. Hardest-hit businesses would count all wages as qualifying wages, not just wages paid to employees not providing services. It also expands the credit to some startups. The employer paid leave credit has also been expanded from $10,000 per employee to $12,000, with the date being March 31st to September 30th.