Congress passed an emergency stimulus package on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, designed to deliver approximately $900 billion in COVID-19-related aid. On Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the bill into law. The bill was part of a $1.4 trillion spending package that will keep the government open for the fiscal year.
Notably, the bill provides funding for unemployment benefits, small businesses, direct economic payments to individuals, vaccine distribution, and rental assistance. This article provides an overview of what is included in the emergency relief bill. However, it is important to note that some things are NOT included in this bill.
What’s Not Included In This Bill
Although providing direct aid to state, local and tribal governments and establishing an employer liability shield were included in early drafts of the bill, the two provisions were not included in the final text. These provisions were intensely negotiated by both parties and were the main cause of the stalled negotiations, but were ultimately dropped in order to pass the bill in a timely manner.
While the bill doesn’t provide direct aid to state, local and tribal governments, it does extend the deadline for states and cities to use unspent money provided by the CARES Act. Under the CARES Act, states and cities had until the end of 2020 to spend their funds, and any unspent amount would have to be returned to the Department of Treasury. This bill extends the original CARES Act deadline for a full year.
Lastly, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was not explicitly extended by the bill, and so employers are no longer required to provide federal FFCRA leave past Dec. 31, 2020. There is, as alluded to earlier, a provision in the bill that pertains to FFCRA which provides that employers who voluntarily choose to continue to provide leave in line with FFCRA terms can continue to receive a federal tax credit for leave through March 31, 2021.
Employers should keep in mind that some states and local jurisdictions have passed their own FFCRA-like laws that extend beyond Dec. 31, 2020, and others that were set to end Dec. 31 may be extended well into 2021.
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