Wonder what's in the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill? So did we...
The final bill is 880 pages. For a complete copy of the text to read as you are trying to fall asleep tonight, click here.
If you are not that brave, try this summary as it is only 35 pages. We will bring more articles regarding relief that will be available to businesses once the bill has been signed and the state and federal departments have a chance to coordinate administration of those provisions, including small business loans, individual rebates, special retirement fund withdrawal rules, a payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid to employees during the crisis if a business is shut down or experiences more than 50% loss over the same quarter last year, etc.
Some of the most intriguing language is found in the sections dealing with unemployment, Title II - ASSISTANCE FOR AMERICAN WORKERS, FAMILIES, AND BUSINESSES, beginning on page 8 of the summary. Included are a variety of reasons an employee may claim unemployment benefits and changes made to the length of time those benefits may be obtained, as well as partial or complete federal funding of some provisions. For example, the waiting week may be waived by states and the impact is paid for by the federal government. A list of qualifications for unemployment is included and the unemployment benefits extend to those not normally covered by unemployment: part-time workers, contractors, even self-employed individuals.
Shared work programs (called "Short-Time Compensation in the bill and summary), like Missouri's program that allows employers facing layoffs to reduce hours rather than laying off workers, will receive 100% federal support as well. Click here to learn more about MIssouri's Shared Work program. Other unemployment changes include extending the benefits by 13 weeks after benefits would otherwise end (Missouri currently limits benefits to 20 weeks).
An unemployment benefit of $600 in addition to any state benefit is included in the bill and was the source of some contention. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) offered an amendment to limit that benefit to the actual amount the person made while employed, and that amendment failed on a 48-48 vote, with both Missouri senators supporting the amendment. Because it did not have 60 votes, it failed. The bill containing the full $600 additional benefit was then approved unanimously in the U.S. Senate.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the measure today on a voice vote. That means only those present were voting and the result was announced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There was a call for a recorded vote, but there were not enough standing in the Chamber to sustain that motion, so it failed. NOTE: Many Representatives were absent because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While there are many provisions in the bill that will help business, businesses should pay close attention to the details in the bill. We want to allow our state agencies to more fully digest the bill after President Trump signs it and will bring you another article with more details later, including how the state departments plan to administer the provisions of the bill.