Massive relief bill leaves some industries happy, others disappointed
Monday’s unveiling of a massive coronavirus relief program drew praise from some business groups, while others criticized Congress for not including their top priorities as the pandemic spreads to in 2021.
Travel and entertainment companies got some wanted supplies, but public sector unions and independent restaurants were largely left out of the $ 900 billion bill.
Here’s how major industries fared in the COVID-19 relief measure.
Airlines got a $ 15 billion boost and an extension of the payroll support program, a key provision of the CARES law that expired in October.
In order to receive the $ 15 billion in aid, airlines will need to recall all employees who were laid off in October. This means that tens of thousands of airline workers are expected to return to work very soon.
The law also grants $ 2 billion to airports. The Airports Council International of North America said the airports were “grateful” for the upcoming influx of cash for a hard-hit industry.
The struggling hospitality industry has hailed the inclusion of $ 284 billion for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (P3) loans that help support small businesses.
American Hotel & Lodging Association CEO Chip Rogers said the bill was “an essential lifeline for hotels,” and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the largest association of hotel owners. hotels nationwide, celebrated the increase in PPP loan amounts.
The package also expands PPP to enable destination marketing organizations to qualify for loans, a top priority for the US Travel Association.
The relief program creates a $ 15 billion grant program for theaters, independent cinemas and cultural institutions. Defenders have been pushing for this program since July.
The National Independent Venue Association, which represents more than 3,000 independent venues and promoters, applauded the inclusion of the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act in Monday’s package.
“We are delighted that Congress has heard the call of independent sites being shut down across the country and provided us with a crucial lifeline by including the Save Our Stages law in the COVID-19 relief bill,” said Dayna Frank, chairman of the group’s board of directors, in a statement.
One of the legislation’s many tax provisions is a permanent reduction in excise duties for alcohol producers, a top priority for the industry since a temporary reduction was included in the 2017 tax bill of the GOP. These tax cuts were due to expire on December 31.
“It’s a huge sigh of relief for struggling artisanal stills awaiting the outcome of these discussions. While not yet done, making the reduced tax rates permanent will serve as an economic lifeline for besieged small distilleries that have closed their tasting rooms for months, ”said Chris Swonger, CEO of Distilled Spirits Council.
The relief bill also reinstates the deduction on business meals until January 2023, which Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America senior vice president Michael Bilello called a “winner for family businesses.” .
“Anything that prompts people to spend money on restaurants in our country should be applauded at this point,” he said.
State and local governments
The National Association of Counties has expressed disappointment that the package does not include new funding for frontline public sector workers.
“Our message today is the same as since the start of this pandemic: An unassisted coronavirus relief program for state and local governments is failing counties and our residents, whose lives and livelihoods are in jeopardy. game, “the association said in a statement. declaration.
Democrats dropped their request for another round of state and local aid earlier this month when Republicans dropped their request for corporate liability protection from coronavirus lawsuits. Majority leader in the Senate Mitch mcconnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSinema defends filibuster, sparking progressive fury Overnight Defense: Austin approaches decision on military sexual assault reform | Democrats lead a high-level fight | Lawmakers scramble to replenish Iron Dome Democrats won term – now is the time to act on it (R-Ky.) Monday said he would “Insist” that liability protections be included in any coronavirus deal next year.
Democrats have argued that states and cities will always benefit from the relief plan’s provisions thanks to the $ 82 billion it provides to colleges and schools.
Public Service Workers’ Unions
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the largest union of public sector employees, said the bill was a “slap in the face” for its workers because of the lack of state and local government funding.
The deal does not include more money directly for state and local governments. Instead, it includes $ 1.6 billion to support local government efforts to distribute the vaccine and to perform coronavirus testing and contact tracing.
“The pandemic has left budget holes nationwide. Unlike the federal government, states and towns cannot run deficits. Already 1.3 million frontline public service workers have been thanked for their heroism with pink slips, with over a million more on the chopping block, ”said AFSCME President Lee Saunders , in a press release.
He noted that frontline public service workers such as nurses, first responders, sanitation workers and correctional officers have “risked their lives” and emergency funding for essential services is critical. .
Long-term care facilities
Residents and workers in long-term care facilities are on the front line to receive the vaccine but were not included in the relief program.
The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, which represent more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities, have criticized the lack of funding for personal protective equipment, testing and support. pay.
The association noted that nearly two-thirds of long-term care facilities are operating at a loss due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The restaurant industry has been divided in its reactions.
The package does not provide direct funds to restaurants and bars, despite lobbying the restaurant industry for an industry-specific fund throughout the pandemic.
“This bill falls woefully a long way from giving 11 million self-employed restaurant workers the job security they need before the holidays,” said the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
The National Restaurant Association, however, said they were happy with the legislation, calling it “a big win for restaurants.”
“The plan includes several elements that will benefit restaurants, including a second access to the Paycheque Protection Program (P3), with unique provisions to help the restaurant industry, which continues to suffer job losses. and unprecedented income, ”said the association. mentionned.
The PPP will also allow restaurants to apply for forgivable loans based on 3.5 times monthly salary costs, instead of 2.5 times monthly salary costs, and will allow restaurants to qualify for loans if they do not employ more than 300 employees at each physical location.
The package extends a provision of the CARES Act that allowed up to $ 300 in tax relief given to charities in addition to the standard deduction until 2021.
The National Council of Nonprofits applauded the extension, along with other provisions, but said the package does not do enough because it limits nonprofits’ access to PPP loans.
“The bill is far from sufficient. Eligibility for PPPs is more limited than the first round, continuing to deny any relief to mid-size and larger nonprofits and denying many organizations that remained open to providing services solely because of the first PPP funding. tour, ”said CEO Tim Delaney.
It also includes an extension of 50% unemployment cost coverage for employer reimbursement until March, but Delaney said without full unemployment cost relief, nonprofits will have to lay off more workers.