November 24, 2020

Washington Wire: McConnell Still Focusing on Highly Targeted COVID Relief Bill

11/12/2020

McConnell Still Focusing on Highly Targeted COVID Relief Bill  

 
On November 10, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell once again stated Congress needs to pass a “highly targeted” COVID relief bill, similar to the $500 billion bill that was blocked last month. That bill would have provided funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as well as money for schools and hospitals and protections for businesses from COVID-related lawsuits. In recent weeks, the Senate Majority Leader stated his intent to pass a COVID relief bill along with all outstanding fiscal 2021 appropriations bills before the end of this year. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had led the talks over a relief package over the past several months, sources expect Senator McConnell to have a more direct role in the next round of negotiations following the election results. If you have not done so already, you can send a letter to your Senators and Representative asking them to take action now on a COVID relief bill.

 

 

 
President Trump Lifts Reinstated Section 232 Tariffs on Canadian Unwrought Aluminum Imports
 
On October 27, President Trump removed Section 232 tariffs of 10 percent on unwrought aluminum imported from Canada. In discussions, the Canadian government agreed to reduce the amount of imported aluminum to approximately 77,000 tons for the months of September – December. Even though the tariffs have been removed, the president reserved the right to re-impose them if imports remain at current levels for the rest of 2020. In July, One Voice helped draft a letter from the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users sent to the Trump Administration opposing the re-imposition of Section 232 tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada.

 

 

 
IRS Issues Notice Allowing Partnerships and S Corporations to Deduct State and Local Taxes
 
On November 9, the IRS announced it intends to introduce a proposed regulation allowing partnerships and S corporations to seek some relief from the $10,000 deduction limit on state and local taxes (SALT) under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law by President Trump in 2017. Under this proposal, income tax payments paid by a partnership or S corporation on its income will not pass through to the individual partners and shareholder where it would be subject to the $10,000 SALT deduction limitation. While it is unknown when the IRS will issue this proposed regulation, the notice stated the rule will apply to income tax payments made on or after November 9, 2020. However, early reports indicate states may seek to capture some of those payments to help their own budgets. You can read IRS Notice 2020-75 here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-20-75.pdf.

 

 

 
SBA Releases PPP “Necessity” Form for Loans $2 million and Higher
 
In late October, the Small Business Administration revealed Form 3509, the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Necessity Questionnaire requiring companies receiving an inquiry to respond within ten days. The SBA estimates 42,000 entities will receive the questionnaire focusing on recipients of PPP loans of $2 million or more. The form asks to compare gross revenue in the second quarter of 2019 to 2020, any non-COVID related capital improvement projects, and whether the business had closed due to COVID. One Voice is working with allies on Capitol Hill to raise concern over new after the fact requests for information.

 

 

 
Federal Reserve Adjusts Main Street Lending Program Terms to Support Small Businesses
 
On October 30, the Federal Reserve Board adjusted the terms of three Main Street Lending Program (MLSP) facilities, attempting to make it more obtainable for small businesses. Under this modification, the Fed lowered the minimum loan size to $100,000 (from $250,000) for three Main Street facilities available to for-profit and non-profit borrowers. To encourage the smaller loans, the Fed will also adjust the fees associated with these loans.
 
In addition to this announcement, the Fed and Department of the Treasury reiterated that Paycheck Protection Program loans of up to $2 million may be excluded for purposes of calculating the maximum loan size under the MSLP. Recent surveys of NTMA and PMA revealed that over 90 percent of member companies secured a PPP loan, allowing businesses to maintain payrolls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 
EEOC Issues Final Rule for Issuing Policy Guidance
 
On October 30, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a final rule establishing procedural regulations for the agency’s issuance of guidance. The final rule provides clear procedures, making guidance documents readily available to the public, ensuring guidance is treated as non-binding and does not overstep legal authority, requiring a notice and public comment period for significant guidance, and establishing a public petition process for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of guidance. By issuing this final rule, the EEOC believes it will improve agency guidance, a critical component of the agency’s outreach and education efforts, informing the public of the Commission’s current interpretations of the law on specific topics and promoting voluntary compliance.

 

 

 
HHS Issues Final Rule Requiring Health Insurers to Disclose Price and Cost Sharing
 
On October 29, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a rule requiring employers to have their third-party administrators publicly disclose detailed health care pricing data. The rule will also require health insurers to publicly disclose the rates they actually pay healthcare providers for specific services. Furthermore, the rule mandates employers make available an internet-based self-service tool, providing price and personalized out-of-pocket cost information to health plan participants. While these new disclosure requirements will likely be passed onto employers, HHS believes the increase in transparency will allow employers to better control health care spending.