News & Publications

Please come back to this page for the latest news regarding COVID-19 federal financial relief help.

Nov 13

Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on economic stimulus deal as coronavirus infections surge

CNBC, November 12, 2020

The top Democrats in Congress said Thursday that a record surge in U.S. coronavirus infections raises the urgency for a new relief bill.  The part of the process that has confounded Washington for months — crafting a bill backed by both Democrats and Republicans — has become no less of a challenge since Election Day.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she still supports legislation to inject at least $2.2 trillion into the American health-care system and economy.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the need for another aid package but said it should resemble the GOP’s $500 billion proposal that Senate Democrats blocked before the election.

 

Oct 15

8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up

New York Times, October 15th, 2020

WASHINGTON — After an ambitious expansion of the safety net in the spring saved millions of people from poverty, the aid is now largely exhausted and poverty has returned to levels higher than before the coronavirus crisis, two new studies have found.  The number of poor people has grown by eight million since May, according to researchers at Columbia University, after falling by four million at the pandemic’s start as a result of a $2 trillion emergency package known as the Cares Act.

Using a different definition of poverty, researchers from the University of Chicago and Notre Dame found that poverty has grown by six million people in the past three months, with circumstances worsening most for Black people and children. “These numbers are very concerning,” said Bruce D. Meyer, an economist at the University of Chicago and an author of the study. “They tell us people are having a lot more trouble paying their bills, paying their rent, putting food on the table.”

Oct 10

McConnell: New coronavirus relief 'unlikely in the next 3 weeks' as White House preps biggest offer yet

Fox News, October 10th, 2020

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted that new coronavirus relief was unlikely to be passed before the election, even as the White House expressed more optimism Friday.   "I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity of the election and everybody kind of trying to elbow for political advantage," the Kentucky Republican said at an event in his home state. “I'd like to see us rise above that like we did back in March and April, but I think that's unlikely in the next three weeks.”

McConnell said he couldn’t say when relief might pass, it would depend on the agreement, but reiterated that the Senate’s first priority was confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. 

The White House is preparing to offer a new $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief deal two days after President Trump abruptly called off negotiations on another round of aid until after the election, jolting Wall Street and sending stocks tumbling.  Reversing course hours later, Trump on Twitter called for piecemeal relief measures, before negotiating the broader package. 

Oct 6

Trump Halts Covid Relief Aid Talks Until After Election

Wall Street Journal, October 6th, 2020

WASHINGTON—President Trump abruptly pulled the plug on bipartisan coronavirus relief talks, saying he was pausing efforts to get more aid to struggling households and businesses until after Election Day.

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday on Twitter. He said he had instructed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to concentrate...

Oct 1

Mnuchin and Pelosi try again to negotiate new pandemic relief before election

NBC News, October 1st, 2020

WASHINGTON — With just over a month before the election, cautious signs of a potential deal are emerging from negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a new Covid-19 relief bill.

Pelosi said Thursday that she is “optimistic” about the talks but warned that major disagreements persist.

According to two sources briefed on the negotiations, Mnuchin has offered Pelosi a total spending level of $1.62 trillion, up from the $1.5 trillion he had previously suggested. A senior Democratic aide said the two will speak again Thursday afternoon.

Sept 29

House Democrats Introduce Scaled-Back Coronavirus Aid Package

NPR, September 29th, 2020

House Democrats have released a $2.2 trillion coronavirus response package as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attempt to revive long-stalled aid negotiations.

The legislation addresses many of Democrats' top priorities, like additional money for testing and drug development, additional unemployment benefits and small business loans, that were included in the $3.4 trillion bill that passed the House in May. Some of the reduced cost comes from scaling back the duration of the benefits in order to come closer to compromise with Republicans.

Pelosi called the package an effort to follow through on the promise to work with Republicans who are seeking a narrower response.

Sept 28

Pelosi and Mnuchin make one final attempt at Covid talks before elections

Politico, September 28th, 2020

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are making one final attempt at striking an agreement on a massive coronavirus relief deal on Monday night, even as House Democrats race ahead with their own partisan stimulus package lacking GOP support.

Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke Monday evening, according to Drew Hammill, Pelosi's spokesman, and they plan to speak again Tuesday morning. If no agreement seems likely — and it hasn’t been despite months of on-and-off negotiations — Pelosi and House Democratic leaders will hold a vote on their own $2.2 trillion bill as soon as Wednesday and then go home, guaranteeing that Congress won’t send more help until after Election Day, said the sources.

Sept 8

Congress Stalled In COVID-19 Relief Bill Discussions

NPR, September 8th, 2020

Talks between top Congressional Democrats and White House officials have failed to reconcile the coronavirus relief bills of the House and the Senate.

Democrats and Republicans have not been able to agree on the next round of coronavirus relief after two weeks of talks. In fact, the parties remain largely in the same corners where they began, each still prodding the other to compromise.

Aug 21

President Trump’s attempt to bypass Congress on stimulus is offering only limited economic relief

Washington Post, August 21st, 2020

Just two weeks after President Trump approved executive actions aimed at bypassing stalled stimulus negotiations with Congress, only one state has said it is paying new jobless benefits, few evictions have been paused, and leading employers have made clear that workers will not benefit from the president’s new payroll tax deferral.

After talks with congressional Democrats faltered, the president on Aug. 8 signed four executive actions aimed at staving off further economic turmoil. They included a $300-per-week benefit for jobless Americans, after the previous enhanced benefits expired in late July. Trump also directed a deferral of payroll taxes, as well as a halt to evictions and a suspension of student loan payments.

But Trump’s directives have so far produced limited economic relief for Americans hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, despite promises by top White House aides that help would come within weeks. By Friday, only Arizona had started sending the extra $300 to its residents.

Aug 16

Stimulus deadline extended for Social Security recipients with kids

CNN News, August 16th, 2020

Washington (CNN)  The Internal Revenue Service is giving some Social Security recipients more time to register for the $500 per child they may be due as part of their full stimulus payment.

Those eligible will have until September 30 to enter their information online. They can expect the payments to be issued by mid-October, the IRS said Friday.

Many Social Security beneficiaries, as well as Railroad Retirement and veterans pension recipients, are not required to file tax returns because their income is below the filing threshold. While those people received their $1,200 stimulus payment automatically, they may have missed out on the extra $500 due per dependent because the IRS didn't have that information on file.

Aug 10

Democrats, Republicans hope for COVID-19 relief bill this week

UPI News, August 10th, 2020

Democratic and White House negotiators have yet to resume talks Monday toward finding an agreement on the next round COVID-19 relief, but both sides are hopeful for a deal this week.

For days last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer discussed a compromise with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on a stimulus bill, which is expected to include another direct payment to Americans.

The House and Senate have proposed differing measures and the negotiators are hoping to meet somewhere in the middle. Mnuchin and Meadows are negotiating for Senate Republicans.

Monday, Mnuchin said the Trump administration wants to resume negotiations with Democrats and is willing to offer more spending.

July 28

Senate Republicans Criticize GOP’s Own Coronavirus Relief Bill: ‘We Have Unity in Disagreement’

National Review, July 28th, 2020

Senate Republicans criticized their party’s own coronavirus relief bill in public comments and during a private lunch with Senate GOP leadership on Tuesday.

The disagreements could make negotiations with House Democrats over the legislation even more tricky, with enhanced federal unemployment benefits set to end on July 31 and a moratorium on evictions for renters already expired. The GOP legislation is set to cost $1 trillion overall, with additional $1,200 checks to be sent to American taxpayers and enhanced federal unemployment benefits of $200 per week.

However, the bill also includes $1.75 billion for a new building to house FBI headquarters, and some senators indicated that they weren’t yet sure what the bill even contains.

“We have unity in disagreement,” Senator John Kennedy (R., La.) reportedly said during the GOP lunch. Later in the day Kennedy quipped, “I’m not going to vote for a bill in the name of unity when I don’t know what’s in the damn thing.”

Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) told reporters, “It’s a mess. I can’t figure out what this bill is about. I don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish with it.”

July 22

Senate GOP, White House reach tentative $1 trillion pact to break coronavirus aid logjam

NBC News, July 22nd, 2020

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans announced Wednesday evening that they have "reached a fundamental agreement" with White House negotiators on how to move forward with a coronavirus relief bill.

The tentative framework comes amid tension in the Republican Party over how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, which is forcing states to re-evaluate their plans to reopen and to address the growing numbers of cases and deaths.

The legislation remains fluid, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has indicated that he wants to keep the price tag at $1 trillion. Republicans aren't all on the same page, as some have denounced the cost amid a soaring national debt. But the latest talks show some signs of breaking an intraparty logjam that has kept negotiations at a dead stop for weeks.

July 21

Trump throws wrench into coronavirus bill negotiations with Senate Republicans

NBC News, July 21st, 2020

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is throwing a big wrench into negotiations between the White House and Senate Republicans over the next coronavirus relief bill by demanding that a payroll tax cut be included and funding for testing be reduced or cut completely.

Leaving meetings on Capitol Hill on Monday night, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that the payroll tax cut is in the yet-to-be released bill despite Republican senators saying they don’t think it’s good policy.

“Not a fan of that, I’ve made that pretty clear,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, said of the payroll tax cut proposal. “I don’t think it’s something that changes anyone’s behavior and has trust fund implications. I just think there are better ways to do it.”

July 20

Lawmakers Are Far Apart On A New Coronavirus Relief Bill. Here Are 5 Sticking Points

NPR, July 20th, 2020

Congress returns from a summer recess Monday as many states experience spikes in confirmed coronavirus cases.  State governments face a precipitous drop in revenue, parents and teachers are debating how kids will return to school in the fall, and millions of unemployed workers face the prospect of their pandemic assistance running out at the end of the month.

But there have been zero negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and they remain very far apart on the contours of what should be in another relief bill.  Pelosi pushed again last week for the $3 trillion HEROES Act the House passed more than two months ago. But that bill, which was approved largely along party lines, was ignored by McConnell — and also met with a veto threat by the president.

July 11

SBA Provided $20 Billion to Small Businesses and Non-Profits Through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Program

SBA Newsroom, July 11th, 2020

WASHINGTON— Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced the conclusion and success of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance program, which provided U.S. small businesses, non-profits and agricultural businesses a total of $20 billion in emergency funding.  In order to assist the greatest number of small businesses, the EIDL Advance provided $1,000 per employee up to a maximum of $10,000.  Recipients did not have to be approved for a loan to receive the Advance, and the Advance provided an interim but vital source of funds while applicants awaited a decision on their loan application. 

“Following the enactment of COVID-19 emergency legislation, the SBA provided nearly six million small businesses employing 30.5 million people with $20 billion through the unprecedented EIDL Advance program,” Administrator Jovita Carranza said.  “This program, built from the ground up in less than two weeks, assisted millions of small businesses, including non-profit organizations, sole proprietors and independent contractors, from a wide array of industries and business sectors.”

July 7

Everything We Know About a Potential Second Stimulus Check

Newsweek, July 7th, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is open to the idea of a second stimulus check, but Republicans and Democrats differ on what the aid could look like.

Legislators have been discussing the possibility of a second economic impact payment since April, just as the first round of checks were being deposited. Three months later, Congress is expected to consider the fifth–and last if McConnell has his way–stimulus package and people are waiting to see if they'll receive additional aid.

On Monday, McConnell said at a public event in Kentucky that he was "pretty sure" he will unveil another stimulus package in the next few weeks. When asked if there would be more direct payments to individuals, McConnell said there "could well be," but it may be limited to those who are struggling most.

July 2

House passes small business loan Paycheck Protection Program extension by unanimous consent

CNN, July 2nd, 2020

The US House passed an extension of the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program fewer than 24 hours after the program shut its doors, moving one step closer to reopening the cornerstone small business coronavirus relief effort.  The House passed the extension, which would keep the program open to applications to August 8, unanimously. The measure will now go to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature.

The House passage completes a whirlwind several days for a program that was all but certain to shutter until bipartisan negotiations were sparked in the US Senate on Tuesday afternoon.  Throughout the day Wednesday House Democrats also debated how to handle the extension, with some pushing for additional changes to the program, according to several aides involved in the discussions.

June 29

Coronavirus response: What Washington has accomplished and what's next

Yahoo Finance, July 2nd, 2020

After the June jobs report that smashed expectations, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the next round of coronavirus relief — known as Phase 4 — will be much more targeted.

“There are going to be a number of businesses that are particularly hard hit and we’ll be looking to give those businesses additional money,” said Mnuchin. “There is no question this is working.”

Mnuchin also said it’s “too early to tell” how big the next stimulus package will need to be.

“That’s the reason that we’re waiting,” he said. “The president is committed to do what we need to do in the next bill to protect kids, protect jobs and protect liability.”

June 15

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Advance Program Reopened to All Eligible Small Businesses and Non-Profits Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

S.B.A. Press Release, June 15th, 2020

WASHINGTON – To further meet the needs of U.S. small businesses and non-profits, the U.S. Small Business Administration reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19 today.

“The SBA is strongly committed to working around the clock, providing dedicated emergency assistance to the small businesses and non-profits that are facing economic disruption due to the COVID-19 impact.  With the reopening of the EIDL assistance and EIDL Advance application portal to all new applicants, additional small businesses and non-profits will be able to receive these long-term, low interest loans and emergency grants – reducing the economic impacts for their businesses, employees and communities they support,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza.

June 13

A second coronavirus stimulus check may be coming. Here's how much money you could get

Fox News, June 13th, 2020

Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested the Trump administration was considering sending Americans another round of stimulus checks to offset the financial pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the related economic lockdown.

"I think we’re going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy," Mnuchin said Wednesday while testifying before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

It's unclear what specific policies the White House is exploring, but there are several proposals — from Democrats and Republicans alike — on the table that would get money directly into the hands of a significant chunk of Americans.

June 11

Mnuchin backs push for more emergency economic relief

Politico, June 10th, 2020

"I definitely think we are going to need another bipartisan legislation to put more money into the economy," said the Treasury chief.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday strongly backed the move for new legislation to put more money into the economy but said the aid must be targeted at helping specific businesses reopen.

In testimony before the Senate Small Business Committee, Mnuchin said unemployment was too high and that administration officials wanted to work on further economic incentives. Possible avenues he floated included changes to the small business-focused Paycheck Protection Program and tax credits.

June 8

Joint Statement by SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin Regarding Enactment of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

S.B.A., June 8th, 2020

WASHINGTON –SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin issued the following statement today following the enactment of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act:

Lower the requirements that 75 percent of a borrower’s loan proceeds must be used for payroll costs and that 75 percent of the loan forgiveness amount must have been spent on payroll costs during the 24-week loan forgiveness covered period to 60 percent for each of these requirements

June 6

There ‘Definitely’ Will Be Another Stimulus Package, Trump Economic Adviser Says

Forbes, June 6th, 2020

Senior White House Adviser Kevin Hassett said during an interview on Fox News Saturday morning that there “definitely” will be another stimulus package, one day after a surprisingly positive jobs report threw the possibility of another coronavirus aid package into question.

House Democrats pushed through a $3 trillion relief bill last month that Republican senators rejected swiftly. The bill included more $1200 cash payments for Americans and an extension to the expanded unemployment insurance program set to January 31, 2021 (the program is set to run out at the end of July.)

May 30

Second Stimulus Check Update: What the Senate, House Are Saying About Next Coronavirus Relief Package

Newsweek, May 30th, 2020

Partisan bickering and Senate disputes over the HEROES Act have placed doubt on when -- or if -- Americans will receive a second coronavirus relief stimulus check over the coming weeks.

Washington lawmakers from both parties are continuing to hash out another round of stimulus payments two weeks after the House passed the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. But the likelihood Americans will receive a broad second round of direct deposits is quickly fading.

Several competing pieces of legislation from House Democrats -- including one that featured $2,000 checks for U.S. households -- did not make it into the final bill now sitting before the Senate. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for a "pause" on all stimulus discussions until some time next month at the earliest. Some Senate Democrats as well as Republicans have criticized another round of $1,200 direct deposits like the one included in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress in March. GOP senators say they will refuse to consider any bill which extends $600-a-week unemployment benefits and Democratic senators say the stimulus checks should only include Americans who lost their jobs as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

May 26

New Stimulus Could Come in 'Next Month or So,' McConnell Says As Pressure Mounts to Restart Economy

Newsweek, May 26th, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the first time on Tuesday laid out a rough timeline for when he foresees another relief package coming to fruition, predicting Congress will be able to negotiate and pass legislation "in the next month or so."

However, the Kentucky Republican, who has previously refrained from offering a specific timetable, reiterated the next stimulus will not resemble the "$3 trillion, left-wing wish-list" that the Democratic-led House passed earlier this month. "That ain't gonna happen," McConnell said.

Although the Senate leader was sparse with the details when speaking to reporters at a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, his public openness to more federal aid comes amid pressure from both sides of the aisle to further alleviate the stress on states' economies.

May 24

Millions of PPP Loan-Forgiveness Requests Are About to Rain on Banks

Bloomberg News, May 22nd, 2020

Banks are preparing for a flood of applications for loan forgiveness under the U.S. Paycheck Protection Program, marshaling staff to help borrowers navigate a complicated process that recalls the fraught early days of the Covid-19 small-business relief effort.

Companies that received PPP funding in early April can start to submit forgiveness applications at the end of May. Lenders will have to help them sort through a detailed application document, complete the paperwork and get it to the Small Business Administration for approval. Banks made about 4.3 million PPP loans for a total of more than $500 billion, and the program allows every borrower to request forgiveness.

May 23

Most small businesses requested PPP coronavirus relief: Here's how many received loans

Fox Business, May 22nd, 2020

About three-quarters of small businesses in the United States applied for government-backed loans through the Payroll Protection Program, according to the Census Bureau, evidence of the widespread financial pain triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.  Roughly two-thirds, or 66.7 percent, of the businesses that asked for assistance, received the money, the Census Bureau said.

Under the Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress established as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, businesses with fewer than 500 workers can secure low-interest loans of up to $10 million. If at least 75 percent of the money goes toward maintaining payroll, including salary, health insurance, leave and severance pay, within eight weeks, the federal government will forgive it

May 20

Mnuchin, Powell face new demands to rescue economy

Politico, May 19th, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell faced pressure from senators Tuesday to move faster to aid American businesses at a hearing that underscored the political risks the two officials face as they try to save the economy.

At a virtual hearing held by the Senate Banking Committee, Mnuchin said the Fed’s $600 billion emergency lending program for midsized businesses is set to begin operating by the end of the month — an initiative intended for companies that are too big to qualify for government-backed small business loans.

“I am gravely concerned that we need to both get that out, and we need to be very aggressive with it,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said of the Fed’s so-called Main Street program, while warning that the planned interest rate on those loans might be too high.

Senators of both parties peppered Mnuchin and Powell with questions about how they planned to maximize the reach of all of the business aid programs amid concerns that the smallest employers and even some larger companies might fall through the cracks.

May 16

Here’s what’s included in the $3 trillion HEROES Act

Fast Company, May 15th, 2020

A massive $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, put forth by Democrats in the House of Representatives Tuesday, headed into voting today. Dubbed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or the HEROES Act, the legislation spans 1,815 pages and lists a number of provisions for Americans struggling economically during the coronavirus crisis.

Click on Read More for some of the main highlights:

May 15

House clears way for passage of $3 trillion coronavirus-relief bill

Reuters, May 15th, 2020

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure on Friday that would allow debate and a vote on a new $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill and a proposal to allow voting by proxy in the House. The procedural move for the two bills, by a vote of 207-199, cleared the way for a vote later on Friday on the measures. The coronavirus relief bill faces opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate and at the White House.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives was set on Friday to debate and vote on a $3 trillion Democratic bill aimed at easing the human and economic toll of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed 85,000 Americans and shut down much of the economy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats crafted the far-reaching legislation that Senate Republicans have promised will be "dead on arrival" in their chamber.

The House measure includes $500 billion in aid to state governments, another round of direct payments to individuals and families to help stimulate the economy, and hazard pay to healthcare workers and others on the front line of the pandemic.

May 14

Banks setting up for small business loan forgiveness as government prepares to release roadmap

Fox News, May 14th, 2020

Owners who received the first PPP loans are nearing the end of that eight-week period.  Banks are starting to lay the groundwork for Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness as the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration prepare to unveil guidelines for the millions of borrowers who hope to turn their federally backed coronavirus aid into a grant.

“I think we’ll have the application and the guidelines as early as today,” Sen. Marco Rubio, the chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, told ABC News Wednesday night.

May 13

Republicans say Senate likely won't vote on next big Covid response bill until after Memorial Day

CNN, May 13th, 2020

Senate Republicans dismissed the House's new stimulus bill as a nonstarter after its release Tuesday, balking at its $3 trillion price tag and warning that any future aid package -- if there is one at all-- won't come until after the Memorial Day recess.

"After the recess," Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, told CNN on Tuesday when pressed on when the Senate would begin serious talks about another stimulus bill.  "Let's fix what was missed last time rather than just adding more money," Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, told CNN.

Republicans, however, find themselves caught between conflicting political realities. On the one hand, many want to avoid more federal spending until they see the impact of the last bills. It's a position that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has taken for weeks. But many Republican also acknowledge they cannot ignore issues with the last round of stimulus spending much longer as they hear from governors, business owners and constituents anxious to make federal programs intended to help stem an economic crisis work for them.

May 12

House Democrats Unveil $3 Trillion Pandemic Relief Proposal

New York Times, May 12th, 2020

WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a $3 trillion pandemic relief measure, an ambitious package with aid for struggling states and another round of direct payments to Americans that Republicans instantly dismissed as an exorbitantly priced and overreaching response to the coronavirus crisis.

The proposal, which spanned 1,815 pages, would add a fifth installment to an already sweeping assistance effort from the federal government, although its cost totaled more than the four previous measures combined. And unlike those packages, which were the product of intense bipartisan negotiations among lawmakers and administration officials who agreed generally on the need for rapid and robust action, the House bill represents an opening gambit in what is likely to be a bracing fight over what is needed to counter the public health and economic tolls of the pandemic.

May 9

US lawmakers blast five large corporations for taking $50 million meant for small businesses

Business Insider, May 9th, 2020

US representatives blasted five publicly traded companies for taking Paycheck Protection Program loans means for small businesses, leading at least one to return the money.

The House subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis sent letters] to MiMedx, Quantum, EVO Transportation & Energy Services, Gulf Island Fabrication, Universal Stainless, and Alloy Products on Friday demanding they return loans received from the treasury. MiMedx said late Friday it was repaying its $10 million loan.

"Since your company is a public entity with a substantial investor base and access to capital markets, we ask that you return these funds immediately," the letters, the committee's first official action, said.

"Returning these funds would allow truly small businesses — which do not have access to alternative sources of capital — to obtain the emergency loans they need to avoid layoffs, stay in business, and weather the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis."

May 8

Stimulus money to come later than projected for millions of Americans

USA Today, May 8th, 2020

After weeks or more of delay, another round of stimulus cash is set to go out soon and finally reach some lower income families who desperately want to know the whereabouts of their Economic Impact Payments.

If things go as expected, most eligible Supplemental Security Income recipients and veterans will spot Economic Impact Payments via their Direct Express card no later than mid-May, according to a fact sheet dated May 5 from Direct Express.

The Internal Revenue Service plans to put those stimulus payments automatically on existing Direct Express cards.  The original plans called for delivery of some of that money by early May, but somehow that did not work out as advertised. 

May 6

Next round of small business relief may come with fewer strings attached

Politico, May 5th, 2020

Congress rushed to get hundreds of billions of dollars out the door to help small businesses amid a collapsing economy. Now lawmakers are preparing to fix the glitches in the next round.

Banks have agreed to lend out more than $500 billion of the $670 billion allocated in the first phases of the small business aid package, known as the Paycheck Protection Program. But many employers are still complaining that the program’s hastily written rules are too stringent to help them stay afloat through the pandemic and keep their workers on the payroll.

So a bipartisan group of lawmakers is plotting big changes as they prepare to consider another round of funding. Among the key proposals being considered in the House and Senate: lengthening the time that small businesses can spend the money; allowing them to use less of the aid on trying to retain employees and more for expenses like rent; and expanding the relief to larger companies.

The program, which offers government-backed, low-interest loans that can be forgiven if employers maintain their payrolls, is expected to exhaust its current $320 billion round of funding in the coming days. As of Friday, the Small Business Administration — the agency implementing the effort — had approved 2.2 million loans for a total of $175.7 billion.

May 5

Pelosi pushes new virus package as McConnell hits "pause"

ABC News, May 5th, 2020

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pressed ahead Tuesday with the next coronavirus aid, a sweeping package that is expected to be unveiled soon even as the House stays closed while the Senate reopens in the pandemic.

Key to any plan to reopen the economy, Democrats say, is robust testing. They are also expected to propose another round of direct cash aid for anxious Americans, funds for states to prevent layoffs and more money to shore up businesses in the stay-home economy. Pelosi had indicated more than $800 billion could be needed, but her office declined to confirm a final figure Tuesday.

May 4

SBA to Make Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available to U.S. Agricultural Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

S.B.A. Press Release, May 4th, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza announced today that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. SBA’s EIDL portal will reopen today as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation, signed into law by the President one week ago, provided additional funding for farmers and ranchers and certain other agricultural businesses affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

May 2

SBA watchdog probes small business loans as scrutiny intensifies

Politico, May 2nd, 2020

The government watchdog tasked with policing the Small Business Administration has informed lawmakers that he has kicked off investigations into rescue programs launched in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and will release an initial report in the coming days.  In a letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and House Small Business Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), SBA Inspector General Hannibal "Mike" Ware said his office has already initiated dozens of investigations involving complaints of fraud.

The response came after Warren and Velázquez asked the SBA and Treasury Department inspectors general to investigate the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers government-backed loans that can be forgiven if employers maintain their payrolls. The lawmakers asked them to look into whether there were protections against fraud and whether banks favored wealthier customers over mom-and-pop businesses.

May 1

Private schools that tapped coronavirus small business relief fund should return aid, Mnuchin says

Fox Business, May 1st, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday urged private schools that tapped a relief fund designed to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic to return the money.

"It has come to our attention that some private schools with significant endowments have taken #PPP loans," Mnuchin wrote on Twitter. "They should return them."

Congress created the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, an integral part of the massive stimulus package passed in March, to help businesses with fewer than 500 workers. If companies spend at least 75 percent of the money on maintaining payroll, the government will forgive it.

But the loan program, which resumed Monday morning after lawmakers injected it with an additional $310 billion, has been criticized heavily for granting loans to big, publicly traded companies — even as small businesses languished.

April 29

Treasury Vows to Recoup Virus Relief Aid Claimed by Big Companies

New York Times, April 28, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Los Angeles Lakers are not what most people think of as a small business. Yet the basketball franchise is the latest example of a large company that managed to qualify for small-business loans from a hastily devised government program intended to help barbershops, restaurants, dry cleaners and other mom-and-pop shops.

Now, the Treasury Department is frantically trying to figure out how to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars from big companies that applied for loans and received them under the program’s initial terms.

On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made another attempt to deal with problems largely of his own making, as he tried to quickly funnel billions of dollars to businesses with vague guidelines. Threatening to hold big companies criminally liable if they did not meet the program’s revised criteria for accepting loans, he said the administration would audit any company that received more than $2 million.

April 27

Backlash grows as pandemic relief stumbles

Politico, April 27, 2020

Congress’ mad dash to shovel nearly $3 trillion into the economy and rescue failing industries met little resistance as the coronavirus crisis overwhelmed communities across the country.  But now the hangover has set in.

The sprawling CARES Act, and its similarly rushed companion bills, has fueled rising angst for lawmakers. They’ve been bombarded with complaints about breakdowns in the small-business lending program, loopholes that have allowed large companies to snatch cash meant for smaller operations and administrative failures that have delayed stimulus checks to struggling American households.

Hospitals, lawmakers say, are competing with each other and the federal government for lifesaving equipment for their employees, and coronavirus testing is still hard to access in many parts of the country, despite Congress’ efforts.  And it’s all occurring without the oversight operations meant to confront these problems as they arise.

“Our constituents have a lot of questions about where the hell this $3 trillion is going and why it isn’t coming into their pockets,” Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) said during a Thursday meeting at the Capitol.

April 24

Trump Signs Latest Coronavirus Economic Relief Package, Aimed At Small Businesses

NPR, April 23, 2020

President Trump on Friday signed Congress' latest coronavirus economic relief package, which includes additional aid to small businesses and hospitals.

The measure passed overwhelmingly in the House on Thursday — 388-5, with one lawmaker voting present.

"We have our differences, but we are coming together on this particular bill, and I am proud of that," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who made the case for ongoing, robust federal intervention as the only way out of the crisis. Pelosi on Thursday wore a white scarf to cover her face, but lowered it to speak on the House floor.

"I think that we have to do whatever we can to recognize that public policy has a role here, that governance carries with it responsibilities and opportunity and results and progress for the American people," she said. "And that science and governance are the answers to meeting the health care needs and meeting the needs of our economy as we go forward."

The Senate passed the measure by unanimous consent on Tuesday.

April 23

Larger companies face harder time getting government-backed loans meant for small businesses hurt by coronavirus

USA Today, April 23, 2020

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is making it tougher for large corporations, such as Shake Shack, to take advantage of federal loans meant for small businesses shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After numerous reports that Fortune 500 companies and other publicly traded firms were able to access the Paycheck Protection Program, the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration on Thursday issued guidance designed to prevent what critics call favored treatment for well-heeled corporations.

The memo urges applicants to request money "in good faith, taking into account their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of liquidity. ... It is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith."

April 23

House Approves $484 Billion Bill to Aid Small Businesses, Hospitals

Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2020

WASHINGTON—House lawmakers, returning to the Capitol in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, donned masks and kept their distance from colleagues Thursday as they voted to approve the next infusion of aid for small businesses and hospitals grappling with the outbreak’s toll.

The $484 billion bill, which the Senate approved Tuesday, replenishes two depleted small business-relief programs, offers additional assistance to hospitals and funds an expansion of testing capacity nationwide. It passed by a vote of 388 to 5.

April 21

Senate approves $480 billion package to help small businesses and hospitals, expand testing

CNN, April 21, 2020

The Senate passed a roughly $480 billion relief package Tuesday that includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new funding for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus outbreak along with other priorities like money for hospitals and expanded Covid-19 testing.

The Senate passed the package by a voice vote, meaning most senators would not need to return to Washington, DC, during the pandemic. The bill goes to the House, which is expected to vote on the package Thursday.

Of the $310 billion authorized for the Paycheck Protection Program, $60 billion will be set aside for smaller lending facilities, including "community financial institutions, small insured depository institutions and credit unions with assets less than $10 billion."

There will also be $10 billion for grants under the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, $50 billion for disaster recovery loans and $2.1 billion for additional salaries and expenses for the Small Business Administration.

April 21

Bipartisan deal reached on small business coronavirus relief

Politico, April 21, 2020

Democrats and the Trump administration have reached a deal on a new round of coronavirus aid that could be approved by the Senate on Tuesday afternoon if all 100 senators agree.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he believed the Senate would pass legislation delivering nearly a half-trillion dollars to small businesses, hospitals, and for testing on Tuesday afternoon. The Senate is scheduled to come in for a 4 p.m. session on Tuesday. Leaders are seeking to have the legislation approved unanimously.

“We have a deal, and I believe we will pass it today,” Schumer said on CNN. Despite optimism over the weekend, Democrats and the Trump administration have struggled to clinch the agreement and failed to deliver it during Monday's Senate session.

"I think it will happen at 4 o'clock today," Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) agreed on C-SPAN. "I think it will go a long way for small businesses."

April 20

Senate nears $370 billion deal for coronavirus small business loan programs

​CNBC, April 20, 2020

Senate Democrats and Republicans are nearing a deal Sunday that could inject roughly $370 billion into loan programs for small businesses, a person familiar with the negotiations told CNBC. 

The talks come after the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which offers forgivable loans to small businesses, ran out of money on Thursday, Democrats rejected a proposal to refill the fund two weeks ago. They instead argued for changes, including adding more money to support federal testing, hospitals and local governments. They’ve also pushed to ensure groups without banking relationships get access to the program and SNAP benefits. 

As of Sunday night, Democrats and Republicans were negotiating a deal that would allocate $310 billion more into the Paycheck Protection Program, setting aside $60 billion of that sum for rural and minority groups. Another $60 billion would go to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, a separate program offering loans for small businesses administered by the Small Business Association.

April 19

Treasury secretary, Democratic leaders 'hopeful' for agreement on coronavirus package

The Hill, April 19, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Democratic congressional leaders say they're hopeful a deal on funding for the popular Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses will be reached and a bill will pass in the coming days.

Mnuchin said he had multiple conversations on the weekend with Senate and House leadership. 

“I think we're making a lot of progress,” Mnuchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

“I'm hopeful that we can reach an agreement, that the Senate can pass this tomorrow, and that the House can take it up on Tuesday, and, Wednesday, we'd be back up and running … I'm hopeful,” he added. “I think we're very close to a deal today. And I'm hopeful that we can get that done.”

April 17

Treasury and IRS unveil online tool to help with Economic Impact Payments; Get My Payment

​IRS, IR-2020-72, April 15, 2020

WASHINGTON – Working with the Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service today unveiled the new Get My Payment with features to let taxpayers check on their Economic Impact Payment date and update direct deposit information.

With an initial round of more than 80 million Economic Impact Payments starting to hit bank accounts over the weekend and throughout this week, this new tool will help address key common questions. Get My Payment will show the projected date when a deposit has been scheduled, similar to the “Where’s My Refund tool” many taxpayers are already familiar with.

Get My Payment also allows people a chance to provide their bank information. People who did not use direct deposit on their last tax return will be able to input information to receive the payment by direct deposit into their bank account, expediting receipt.

April 16

Small-Business Aid Funds Run Dry as Program Fails to Reach Hardest Hit

​New York Times, April 16, 2020

WASHINGTON — A new federal program to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic is running out of money and falling short in the industries and states most battered by the crisis, risking waves of bankruptcies and millions of additional unemployed workers.

Funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative created by the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted last month, could be exhausted as early as Wednesday night, meaning that the Small Business Administration would have to stop approving applications. As of Wednesday evening, more than 1.4 million loans had been approved at a value of more than $315 billion, according to the Small Business Administration.

April 15

Scramble among businesses for coronavirus stimulus loans spills into court

CNN, April 15, 2020

Some businesses unable to access stimulus loans may have to keep waiting.  A federal judge allowed Bank of America this week to continue its process of doling out coronavirus relief loans to its existing customers before other applicants, in one of the first notable court cases to interpret the $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress last month.

The fast-moving court case highlights the scramble and roadblocks businesses have faced in getting access to money Congress authorized to help them. In the Bank of America case, the judge put the responsibility back on Congress to address consequences of the law.

Bank of America blocked some businesses -- including a public relations firm, a hair salon, a bar security company in Maryland and a car roof-rack seller in Connecticut -- from getting loans because they hadn't borrowed from the bank before. The businesses took their problem to court. But in an early ruling, a federal judge determined that the businesses couldn't stop the bank's choice of whom it would lend to at this time. The businesses are appealing, though they note that the available stimulus funds could run out in weeks or days.

 

April 15

Stimulus program for small business nearly depleted as Congress still negotiating a deal

​USA Today, April 15, 2020

WASHINGTON – The stimulus program designed to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic is nearly out of money, leaving its future up in the air as congressional leaders work on a deal to replenish the initiative. 

About 90% of the $349 billion set aside for the Paycheck Protection Program, designed to help struggling businesses stay alive and keep paying their workers, had been allocated as of Wednesday afternoon.

Congress' failure to inject more money into the program has left members on both sides of the aisle frustrated. 

April 12

Coronavirus Stimulus Money Starts to Flow into Bank Accounts

​NBC News, April 11, 2020

WASHINGTON — Americans are starting to receive their cash payments via direct deposits, part of the $2 trillion bill passed by Congress to stimulate the economy after the decline caused by the pandemic.

“#IRS deposited the first Economic Impact Payments into taxpayers’ bank accounts today.  We know many people are anxious to get their payments; we’ll continue issuing them as fast as we can,” the IRS tweeted on Saturday.  Numerous Twitter users also posted on Saturday that they had received a deposit.

For those who do not have direct deposit information registered with the IRS, it could take months for checks to be mailed. The IRS is expected to roll out an online tool to help those that have not registered direct deposit do so.

April 11

Short on Cash? Here's Some Advice For Families Stretching Their Budgets

​NPR, April 9, 2020

Forget living paycheck to paycheck. Many families have lost work during the pandemic and are running out of cash as they wait for unemployment checks and government rescue money to arrive.

These are highly unusual times, and family budgeting recommendations are also unconventional.

Kathy Hauer, a financial planner based in Aiken, S.C., says she's telling people to do things she has never recommended before: "Defer as many payments as possible and worry about it later."

But, she says, don't just ignore all the bills. Make sure to call all the companies and ask for forbearance — either a delayed payment or a new payment plan.

April 10

Small businesses struggling to get coronavirus relief loans from big banks, here's why

​Fox News, April 10, 2020

One week into the rollout of the coronavirus relief program that promised quick cash for small businesses, community lenders have continued to process the bulk of the loan applications while some of the nation’s biggest banks have been criticized for moving too slowly.

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed at the end of March established the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to get cash in the hands of small businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and incentivize them to keep staff on payroll, or rehire workers who have already been laid off.

As of April 3, small business owners could apply for funding, and independent contractors on Friday. The program opened to self-employed individuals on April 10. But many owners have run into problems obtaining the loans

April 9

Paycheck Protection Program Loans: Three Things The SBA And Banks Need To Agree On Now

​Forbes, April 5, 2020 - Opinion

Why is it so hard to develop a universal calculation of the amount a business can borrow?

Seriously. We’re the country behind wonderful inventions like the lunar module, the personal computer, and asbestos, and you’re telling me some egghead at the SBA couldn’t configure eight rows on a spreadsheet so that EVERYONE can understand how much can be borrowed?

April 7

Critical week ahead to fix initial roadblocks to coronavirus relief package

​CNN, April 7, 2020

The success of the multi-trillion-dollar life raft that was floated into the cascading waves of business closures, job losses and the virtual shutdown of the US economy will likely be determined this week.

The first direct payments are scheduled to be deposited in the accounts of individuals and families who qualify.

A small business lending program, the centerpiece of the $2 trillion economic rescue package, is expected to be fully up and running after a rocky, and at times anemic, first few days in place.  The terms for bailouts of the airline industry, and lending facilities for large distressed companies, are also likely to be finalized.

April 7

What You Need To Know About The Paycheck Protection Program

​Forbes, April 7, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to halt daily life with shelter-in-place orders. Small businesses are being forced to shut down, and now owners are struggling to come up with the cash to keep running.

The federal government is stepping in to help with the Paycheck Protection Program, which was included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed on March 27. The Paycheck Protection Program provides $349 billion in forgivable loans to help small businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.

Here’s everything small business owners need to know about the program. This post will continue to be updated as more details are released. 

April 6

Outages and delays mar new small business loan program

​NBC News, April 6, 2020

The electronic system the Small Business Administration is using to set up new coronavirus loans was down much of Monday, according to senior banking executives, making it impossible for many new loans to be guaranteed.

Billions of dollars in loans sought by small businesses trying to pay employees and keep their doors open were on pause as the SBA, supported by the Treasury, grapples with the demand on its system.

April 4

SBA loan program glitches reveal challenge in rolling out billions in coronavirus aid

​CNN, April 4, 2020

Technical glitches, lender frustrations and lawmakers even live tweeting their own problems with Friday's rollout overshadowed the first hours of the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, the new loan program that was designed to help put millions directly into the hands of small business owners affected by coronavirus.

In less than a week, the SBA, which handled just $28 billion in loans in 2019, stood up a platform to try and begin disbursing nearly $350 billion through an entirely new program Friday.

But concerns about lender liability, glitches with the interface banks used to upload loan information and delayed participation by major banks all culminated into a rocky first few hours.

April 4

Bankers struggle to get virus relief loans to small businesses

​Bloomberg, April 4, 2020

President Donald Trump on Saturday April 4th dismissed concerns about the rollout of a $349 billion program to assist small businesses rocked by the coronavirus, saying loan distributions were “way ahead of schedule” even as banks struggle to respond to the flood of requests.

“It’s been flawless so far,” Trump told reporters Saturday at the White House. “Far beyond our expectations. I don’t even hear of any glitch.”

April 3

F.A.Q. on Stimulus Checks, Unemployment and the Coronavirus Plan

​New York Times, April 3, 2020

The $2 trillion relief bill will send money directly to Americans, greatly expand unemployment coverage and make a number of other changes.

President Trump has signed a bipartisan $2 trillion economic relief plan to offer assistance to tens of millions of American households affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Its components include stimulus payments to individuals, expanded unemployment coverage, student loan changes, different retirement account rules and more.

April 2

Lost Work Because Of Coronavirus? How To Get Unemployment, Skip Loan Payments And More

NPR

The federal government is throwing $2 trillion at the coronavirus problem. Banks and other lenders are doing things to assist people on top of that. Here's your survival kit for how to get the help that's available and be in the best financial shape possible as you weather this storm.

April 1

Treasury Secretary says Americans can expect stimulus checks to be direct deposited within three weeks

CNN, April 1st, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that Americans could expect checks from the historic $2 trillion stimulus bill to be direct deposited in their accounts within three weeks but experts have determined it could take longer to receive the money.

Congress and President Donald Trump enacted the stimulus bill last week to address the dramatic economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Included are direct payments to many Americans, an unprecedented expansion in unemployment benefits and $350 billion in small business loans.

March 30

Tax questions answered: Here's how to navigate coronavirus confusion after the April 15 filing deadline is extended to July 15

USA Today, March 30 2020

Sure, we thought the chaos and confusion of last year's tax season was long behind us. 

This year, they told us, was bound to be better as people became more familiar with the new tax rules that  initially showed up on 2018 tax returns.

Then the coronavirus crisis took hold in the United States. And 2020 tax season has become more confusing by the minute. 

Now, the April 15 deadline for filing and paying your taxes has been extended to July 15. But you might not want to wait that long, especially if you're owed a federal income tax refund. The Internal Revenue Service said most tax refunds are still being issued within 21 days.

March 27

Opinion:  The Fed is making the right moves to help America's small businesses

CNN, Selma Blair, March 27 2020

My grandmother was fond of saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. That certainly fits the bailouts of 2008 and 2009. The Federal Reserve lent trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street highfliers, hoping that by stabilizing big banks, the benefits would flow through to the rest of the economy. But it didn't work out that way. While big banks rebounded quickly, working families suffered for years from the effects of lost jobs, lost homes and sluggish wage growth.

When the coronavirus started roiling financial markets earlier this month, the Fed again reverted to its 2008 "playbook," pumping hundreds of billions into the banking system, but with little discernible effect on Main Street. Fortunately, this week, the Fed corrected course. In a bold move, it announced new programs that use its ability to create money to more directly help the real economy, including employers large and small who are struggling to make payroll, and households hit hard by job losses or reduced hours.

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