Today’s update is going to be a little briefer than usual as a lot of today’s news is mainly recapping of the number of issues, we have discussed regarding the next federal funding phase.
Senate Republicans announced last night and reiterated again today that they have reached a fundamental agreement with White House negotiators on how to move forward with a coronavirus relief bill. Consensus is they’ll try to keep the price tag around $1 trillion, but there are some still worried about the overall spending amount.
The plan will be released over several bills rather than one large piece of legislation. Negotiators agreed on $16 billion for testing as part of the Republican proposal, but they plan to offer $9 billion in previously appropriated funds and $16 billion in new funding. The combination of funds is a compromise between the Trump administration, which wanted to zero out funding for testing, and Senate Republicans, who wanted $25 billion. Funding for testing would be focused on schools, day care centers, nursing homes and senior centers.
As part of the preliminary agreement, Republican negotiators agreed to $70 billion for K-12 education for all schools on a per capita basis, with half of the money going to covering costs for schools that have reopened. In addition, $30 billion would be doled out to colleges and universities, but not necessarily tied to reopening. The last $5 billion would be for governors to allocate how they see fit.
Negotiators also agreed to provide Americans with another round of direct payments, which the administration has been pushing for weeks. The details point to a replication of the first round which provided $1,200 to those making up to $75,000. Talk was heavy on reducing that amount to $40.000.
The GOP proposal is also expected to include a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds, a five-year shield from coronavirus lawsuits except in the case of gross negligence or intentional misconduct and help for businesses to pay for protective equipment and other coronavirus-related expenses.
Finally, Republicans are looking at 70% wage replacement at time of layoff for unemployment insurance and have not advanced any plan to continue the unemployment insurance bonus of $600. The 70% replacement would last through the end of the year. Also, the payroll tax cut does not appear to be in final plans. Seems like it is either the direct payments or payroll tax cut and for the time being, the direct payment option is more favorable.
Look for bills to be announced on Monday.
State Eviction Ban Extended
Governor Pritzker extended the ban on evictions until August 22 as the state continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ban on housing evictions was scheduled to expire at the end of this month. Illinois lawmakers put into place two programs – each with $150 million in funding – to provide assistance to renters and homeowners at risk of losing their housing because of the pandemic. With many people out of work because of the pandemic, thousands faced eviction for not paying rents or foreclosure for not paying mortgages. Pritzker said that renters can begin applying for assistance the week of August 10 and homeowners can apply beginning the week of August 28. Pritzker said that through the fall, renters can receive grants of up to $5,000 and homeowners can receive grants of up to $15,000. The grants are available through the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Stay tuned for more follow-up information on this.
The Trump administration announced a nearly $2 billion contract with Pfizer and a smaller German biotech company to produce a potential coronavirus vaccine. The contract is the largest yet from Operation Warp Speed, the White House program to fast-track a vaccine. The government will not pay the drug makers until the vaccine gets F.D.A. approval. If the vaccine works, individual Americans will receive it for free.
We will wrap up today by letting you know you can block out next Thursday, July 30 for our next Virtual Conference from 11 am to noon. We will release details as soon as 100% complete.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry