Congress is racing to complete the next COVID-19 relief package before a number of provisions expire in mid-March, using the budget reconciliation process to speed approval with a simple majority vote in the Senate.
PAA member organizations and our colleagues are urging constituents to contact Congress today and ask for support. To help you quickly contact your officials, a sample message may be found here, including talking points that you may adapt and personalize to your situation. PAA is joining with others across the arts to describe how COVID-19 relief can support community needs.
House Leadership is advancing proposals through committees in the coming days before the various elements are combined into a single package for House and Senate consideration in response to the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal by the Biden-Harris Administration. Highlights of the most recent considerations before Congress include:
Shuttered Venue Operators Grants: An additional $1.25 billion in funding would be made available to support the Small Business Administration's emerging COVID-19 relief program, also known as Save our Stages and currently funded at $15 billion. An additional $840 million in funding would build the capacity of SBA to administer relief programs, including Shuttered Venue grants.
National Endowment for the Arts COVID-19 Relief: The NEA would 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." New dedicated COVID-19 relief funding is also proposed for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Emergency Funding for Education and State, Loval, Territorial, and Tribal Support: Nearly $130 billion would be available to support K-12 education, including dedicated resources to address learning losses. The proposal offers $350 billion for state, local, territorial, and tribal support to address COVID-related revenue losses.
Paycheck Protection Program: An additional $7.25 billion would be added to the PPP resources, and eligibility changes would allow nonprofits with no more than 500 employees at each location to be eligible for forgivable loans.
Pension Relief: Proposals would provide relief for both single- and multi-employer pension plans, addressing longstanding concerns for employers and retirees that have been made more urgent in the wake of COVID-19.
Employee Retention Tax Credit: The refundable payroll tax credits that are currently available in the first two quarters of 2021 would be extended through the remainder of the calendar year.
Families First Paid Leave and Credits: Paid sick and family leave provisions would be 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, would be extended through August 29, 2021. Pandemic Unemployment Compensation would be increased to $400 per week, beginning the week of March 15 and through August 29, 2021.
Relief for Nonprofits Self-Insuring Unemployment Benefits: Many performing arts organizations 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. Under the new proposal, the 50% coverage would continue through March 31, and then starting April 1 federal relief would cover 75% of nonprofit liability, available through August 29, 2021.
PAA members and our colleagues in the field will keep you up to date as these proposals make their way through Congress.