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The following provides information on the federal bills that have been enacted to address the impact of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus aid, relief and economic Security Act, or “CARES”

March 27, 2020 (date of enactment), the House passed and the president signed the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or “CARES” Act. The CARES Act marks the largest economic relief package in our nation’s history.

Much of the CARES Act involves tax and related relief for businesses and individuals. The Act provides rebates for many individual taxpayers, expands unemployment insurance coverage and provides opportunities to access retirement plan funds without penalties. On the business side, net operating loss rules are relaxed, new loan programs are available and certain payroll tax liabilities can be deferred. In addition, several revenue-raising provisions from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) limiting business deductions are being temporarily rolled back or modified.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201)

This bill responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.

Date enacted: March 18, 2020

Specifically, the bill provides FY2020 supplemental appropriations to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for nutrition and food assistance programs, including:

  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
  • Nutrition assistance grants for U.S. territories

The bill also provides FY2020 appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services for nutrition programs that assist the elderly.

The supplemental appropriations provided by the bill are designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.

The bill modifies USDA food assistance and nutrition programs to:

  • Allow certain waivers to requirements for the school meal programs
  • Suspend the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program), and allow states to request waivers to provide certain emergency SNAP benefits.

In addition, the bill requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard that requires certain employers to develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect health care workers.

The bill also includes provisions that:

  • Establish a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak
  • Expand unemployment benefits and provide grants to states for processing and paying claims
  • Require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees
  • Establish requirements for providing coronavirus diagnostic testing at no cost to consumers
  • Treat personal respiratory protective devices as covered countermeasures that are eligible for certain liability protections
  • Temporarily increase the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP)

Access Baker Tilly’s up-to-date guide for a summary of the COVID-19 stimulus package and to aid in your understanding and analysis of federal, state and local financial assistance programs available to your business.

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074)

Provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. It provides supplemental appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the State Department, and the Small Business Administration to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

Date enacted: March 6, 2020

It provides funds programs that address issues such as:

  • Developing, manufacturing, and procuring vaccines and other medical supplies; grants for state, local, and tribal public health agencies and organizations
  • Telehealth services
  • Loans for affected small businesses
  • Evacuations and emergency preparedness activities at U.S. embassies and other State Department facilities
  • Humanitarian assistance and support for health systems in the affected countries

The supplemental appropriations are designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.

The bill provides appropriations for:

  • The Food and Drug Administration for Salaries and Expenses and appropriations
  • The Small Business Administration for the Disaster Loans Program Account
  • The HHS for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. (Sec. 301)
  • The Department of State for the Administration of Foreign Affairs, and the U.S. Agency for International Development for the Office of Inspector General
  • Bilateral Economic Assistance, including Global Health Programs, International Disaster Assistance, and the Economic Support Fund. (Sec. 401) This section specifies the congressional notification requirements that apply to funds provided by this title.
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