Regulatory Updates

Senate Vote Fails to Advance Next COVID-19 Aid Package

A 52-47 vote in favor was not enough to advance the Senate GOP leadership’s latest coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic relief proposal. S. 178, the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, did not receive the 60 votes needed to end debate and proceed to a final vote on the package.

This bill, significantly narrower in scope than earlier proposals by the Senate and House of Representatives for more COVID-19 aid to businesses and individuals, would have given states the option to continue providing up to $300 per week of federally-funded unemployment benefits, and provided liability relief to businesses, schools, healthcare facilities, and other entities.

S. 178 also contained an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small business loans, including allowing a second PPP loan for certain businesses that demonstrate a qualifying degree of revenue loss. The employee compensation element of PPP loans can be used for retirement or health benefit expenses. The bill would also have simplified the loan forgiveness element of PPP loans for eligible current and future borrowers.

In addition, the legislation would have expanded 529 plan qualified higher education expenses for homeschool and additional elementary and secondary expenses incurred after enactment, and before January 1, 2023. Parents of K-12 students at public, private, or religious schools would have been allowed to use 529 plan funds for an enhanced range of expenses. S. 178 would also have allowed parents who home-school their children to use 529 plan funds for educational expenses.

It is not clear at this time whether an additional pandemic aid package will be proposed or enacted before the Senate and House of Representatives recess for the November general election.