Relief Bill on the table in D.C.

March 22, 2020

NYS Council members,

This morning we sent you an Alert describing the National Council’s efforts to ensure community mental health and substance use disorder/addictions programs and services receive their fair share of funding from the relief package being negotiated on the Hill.   (Please see the Alert we sent this morning requesting your advocacy on this critical matter.)  The National Council asks that we contact Senator Schumer NOW with an ask for $850 million in supplemental appropriations for community mental health and addiction treatment providers who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19, coronavirus response.  We cannot let the bill being negotiated on the Hill pass without specific and dedicated funds for community mental health and substance use disorder providers!  Please take action now and tomorrow morning.

What’s new in the Senate GOP’s $1.6T emergency package

By Jennifer Scholtes, Caitlin Emma, Politico

03/22/2020 05:44 PM

The latest version of the Senate GOP’s coronavirus stimulus package circulated on Sunday includes multiple changes and funding hikes as congressional leaders race to find bipartisan common ground on a colossal $1.6 trillion-plus measure to rescue the flagging economy.

After leaders from both parties spent the weekend negotiating changes, Republicans rolled out an updated measure that builds on the draft measure they unveiled Thursday.

In a concession to some Democratic demands, the draft, S. 3548 (116) , includes an expansion of unemployment insurance, hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency funding for federal agencies and more attention to the poorest Americans when it comes to direct payments.

But House Democrats are still forging ahead with their own legislation, even as the Senate aims to clear a key procedural hurdle.

What has changed — and what’s in dispute — in the massive stimulus Congress is expected to clear for President Donald Trump’s signature before week’s end:


Emergency cash for agencies

Federal agency budgets would receive an infusion of $240 billion in emergency appropriations to bolster offices across the federal government, beef up grant programs and pay salaries for federal workers. The amount is far more than the $46 billion requested by the White House budget office, which was tailored to only cover agencies’ operational costs.

Aid for hospitals

Health care providers would receive a $75 billion allocation — a hefty gift for hospitals, though far less than the hundreds of billions of additional dollars sought by the for-profit hospital lobby and leading Senate Democrats.

Cash payments to the poorest

The revamped bill would give $1,200 per adult to even the poorest Americans , rather than providing just $600 to people who pay little to no income tax. Payments would now be based on 2019 tax returns, rather than 2018 returns. Under the revised measure, even some people who didn’t file tax returns could get the cash by using information from Social Security benefits statements to qualify.

Tax leeway reversal

The revised legislation drops language that would have allowed multinational corporations to access taxes they overpaid through a one-time levy on their foreign earnings. Also left out: a provision to reverse taxes on certain investments for some companies, and language allowing corporations to delay estimated tax payments. The Treasury Department already delayed estimated tax payments due on April 15 and presumably could push back other deadlines, if need be.

Schools funding

A new $20 billion would flow to education under the bill, compared to the initial draft released last week. That includes $12 billion for K-12 schools, $2 billion governors can mete out for education efforts and $6 billion for colleges, including direct aid for college students.

The updated bill would require the Education Department to suspend all payments on federally held student loans for six months, while an earlier proposal called for a three-month mandatory pause with an additional three-month period at the Education secretary’s discretion. The revised proposal also puts more limits on an earlier plan to grant the secretary broad authority to waive provisions of major federal education laws amid concerns it could eliminate key protections for students.

Boosting the Strategic National Stockpile

The latest Senate draft would shore up the largest national repository of emergency treatments by $1.7 billion. That money would come on top of the $3.1 billion to purchase medical supplies for state and local health departments provided by Congress’ first response to the coronavirus outbreak, H.R. 6074 (116).

Backup for banks

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. would get more power to backstop banks , which would also get relief in the form of relaxed regulations. The FDIC would get the power to expand its guarantee of the banking system and regain authorities it used in the 2008 financial crisis to shore up confidence in lenders. Banks would be able to hold off on new accounting requirements for potential losses when they issue loans and more easily restructure troubled debt without taking a significant capital hit.

Transportation aid

Building on the $58 billion the initial bill text already laid out in loans and guarantees for the airline industry, the latest iteration would also kick in cash for other transportation sectors, including $10 billion in grants to public transit systems, $10 billion in grants to U.S. airports and $1 billion in grants to Amtrak.


Unemployment insurance

The latest draft includes a $250 billion expansion of unemployment insurance in a win for Democrats seeking expanded benefits. But House leaders are balking at the timeline set forth by Senate Republicans. Recipients would receive an additional $600 per week payment for up to three months, which is an “insufficient length” of time given the scope of the crisis, a senior Democratic aide said.

Layoff protections

Democrats say they are still pushing Republicans to include stricter rules preventing companies that accept federal aid from laying off workers. The bill already includes language, however, forcing companies to pay back federal cash if they don’t retain payroll. That requirement would be retroactive to March 1 to entice employers to bring back workers who have already been laid off this month.

Banning stock buybacks

The legislation would already generally prevent companies that accept government loans from buying back their own stock until they pay back the borrowed cash. But it would give Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin the power to waive that rule, and Democrats are still gunning for a more ironclad prohibition.

Limiting executive compensation

Companies that get a big federal assist under the bill couldn’t turn around and use the cash to pad out the paychecks of CEOs and other higher-ups. But Democrats want that ban to go beyond two years.

Bailout specifics

The bill would unleash $500 billion in assistance to industries like airlines, giving the Treasury Department the power to decide which companies would get funding and how much they would be allotted. But Democrats want those details buttoned down now.

Bridging the ‘homework gap’

Lawmakers continue to argue about how to help students get access to online instruction while schools are closed because of the coronavirus. While FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has asked for $50 million to be put into a new pilot program for “off-campus connectivity,” some lawmakers want the money to go directly to the agency’s existing E-Rate subsidy program.

Zachary Warmbrodt, Marianne LeVine, Rachel Roubein, Mohana Ravindranath, Susannah Luthi, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Kathryn A. Wolfe, Anthony Adragna, Victoria Guida, Michael Stratford, Brian Faler, Bernie Becker and Toby Eckert contributed to this report.