Advocacy Update: American Rescue Plan Provides New COVID-19 Relief

By Laurie Baskin posted 03-10-2021 21:28

Congress has passed the American Rescue Plan, a new $1.9 trillion package of COVID-19 relief. On March 6, the Senate passed the package, which was then passed by the House on Wednesday, March 10 and will soon be signed into law by President Biden. Here is an overview of key elements of the relief package: 

Shuttered Venue Operators Grants: An additional $1.25 billion in funding will be made available to support the Small Business Administration’s emerging COVID-19 relief program, also known as Save our Stages, bringing total funding for the program to $16.25 billion. A policy change will allow 2021 Paycheck Protection Program recipients to apply for a Shuttered Venues grant, and then deduct the value of their PPP loan from the applicant’s maximum grant amount. An additional $840 million in funding will build the capacity of SBA to administer relief programs, including Shuttered Venue grants. 

Paycheck Protection Program: An additional $7.25 billion will be added to the PPP resources, and eligibility changes will allow nonprofits with no more than 500 employees at each location to be eligible for forgivable loans. 

National Endowment for the Arts COVID-19 Relief: The NEA will receive an additional $135 million in dedicated funding, with 40% allocated to states and regions and the remainder supporting direct grants to organizations “that support organizations’ programming and general operating expenses to cover up to 100 percent of the costs of the programs which the grants support, to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the coronavirus.”

Employee Retention Tax Credit: The refundable payroll tax credits that are currently available in the first two quarters of 2021 will be extended through the remainder of the calendar year. 

Emergency Funding for Education and State, Local, Territorial, and Tribal Support: Nearly $130 billion will be available to support K-12 education, including dedicated resources to address learning losses. The bill provides $350 billion for state, local, territorial, and tribal support to address COVID-related revenue losses.

Broadband access and devices: $7.171 billion will establish the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which will support eligible schools and other organizations in providing connected devices, internet service, and hotspots to students and teachers for internet use at home.

Families First Paid Leave and Credits: Paid sick and family leave provisions are expanded and refundable payroll tax credits extended through September 30, 2021. 

Pandemic Unemployment Benefits: Pandemic Unemployment benefits, including the $100 supplement for those with a mix of 1099 and W-2 earnings, are extended through September 6, 2021. Pandemic Unemployment Compensation will be available at $300 per week, through September 6, 2021. 

Relief for Nonprofits Self-Insuring Unemployment Benefits: Many theatares are among nonprofits that self-insure unemployment benefits rather than pay state unemployment taxes. The federal government covers 50% of nonprofit liability under the CARES Act, and this relief was extended through March 14, 2021 in the December relief package. This bill continues the 50% coverage through March 31, and then starting April 1 federal relief will cover 75% of nonprofit liability, available through September 6, 2021.