Federal Response

"In order to keep our community updated on the latest federal coronavirus developments, I’m keeping this page updated with information and resources for each legislative response. Congress and the Trump Administration are working to help the American people through this crisis. Though information will be added regularly, you can also get the latest news by following my Twitter and Facebook accounts at RepJohnRose for regular coronavirus alerts."

-Representative John Rose


 

Actions by President Trump:

  • President Trump Declares a National Emergency: On March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency to combat COVID-19. The emergency declaration authorized direct federal assistance, temporary facilities, commodities, equipment, and emergency operation costs for all states, including territories and localities in our shared fight against the pandemic.
  • Historic Economic Relief: On March 27, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. The law provides unprecedented economic relief to American citizens, small businesses, workers, healthcare providers, and state, local and tribal governments and builds on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • Tennessee’s Major Disaster Declaration: Governor Lee submitted a major disaster declaration request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). On April 2, President Trump approved the request declaring a major disaster in the State of Tennessee and ordered federal assistance to supplement state, local and tribal recovery efforts in the areas affect by COVID-19.

 

Actions by Congress:

  • Phase III: The CARES Act – Financial Relief for Individuals and Families; Small Business Guidance and Resources; and the Coronavirus Relief Fund for State and Local Governments
  • Phase II: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act – Child Nutrition; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Unemployment Insurance; Emergency Paid Sick Leave; Health Insurance Coverage; Medicare; Tax Credits for Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family Medical Leave
  • Phase I: The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 – Emergency funding to address the virus at home and abroad, including expediting vaccine development, purchasing essential equipment and supplies, and assisting state and local health departments.

 

A more detailed description of these Congressional actions are below:

CARES Act
The United States Senate and House of Representatives passed H.R. 748, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.” This legislation brings desperately needed relief to the American people during this unprecedented time in our country’s history. Included in this bill are provisions that will help individuals, businesses, and communities withstand this public health crisis. Among these provisions:

  • Aid for hospitals and frontline healthcare providers;
  • Financial relief directly to Americans through checks up to $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for couples, and $500 per child;
  • Regulatory relief for banks to grant loan forbearance for otherwise-healthy businesses experiencing temporary closures;
  • Expands telehealth medicine to surge capacity for diagnoses and treatment;
  • Temporarily expands unemployment insurance for those who have lost their jobs;
  • Provides liability protection for providers who volunteer; and
  • Temporarily waives the required minimum distribution from certain retirement accounts and the 10-percent early-withdrawal penalty for distributions from qualified retirement accounts for COVID-19 purposes.

 

Resources
Resources for Small Businesses
Information for Medium-Large Businesses
Information for Unemployed Individuals
Information for Individuals, Married Couples, and Retirees

 

Resources for Small Businesses
Small Business Guidance and Resources
One of the key features of the CARES Act was providing relief to businesses that are struggling in this economy. The largest small business provision in the CARES Act is the Paycheck Protection Program (Sec. 1102) and Loan Forgiveness (Sec. 1106). The bill also expands the Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program (Sec. 1110).

  • Tennessee: Information for the Small Business Administration’s Tennessee District Office can be found here.
  • Tennessee: General information about small business resources for Tennessee businesses during the COVID-19 public health emergency can be found on the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development website here.

 

Paycheck Protection Program
Prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $350 billion for 100% federally guaranteed loans for 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, veterans’ organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. More information is available here(Source: treasury.gov  

Loans can be forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities.

  • The SBA has provided more information about the Paycheck Protection Program here.
  • The House Ways and Means Committee and the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship have compiled a helpful FAQ document, which can be found here.

SBA-certified lenders and non-SBA lenders will be authorized to make Paycheck Protection Program loans. All lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program, including banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions, will be moved to “delegated authority,” which allows lenders to process loans quickly. The Secretary of the Treasury will work with the SBA to expedite the approval process and bring new lenders into the program.

  • The U.S. Department of Treasury has published guidance for lenders and borrowers interested in the Paycheck Protection Program here.

 

SBA Payroll Protection
Businesses with under 500 employees per location are eligible to receive up to 8 weeks of financial assistance through federally guaranteed loans from the SBA. If the employer maintains payroll and does not terminate employees, the portion of the loan used to meet payroll, mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities will be completely forgiven.  This is designed to ensure businesses can retain their workers and applies retroactively to February 15, 2020, to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto the payroll.

 

Employee Retention Credits
Employee Retention Credits are refundable payroll tax credits for 50% of wages paid by employers to employees up to $10,000 per employee.  This is available to employers whose:

  • Operations were fully or partially suspended due to COVID-19 shut down order
  • Gross receipts declined by more than 50% when compared to last quarter

Employers with 100 or fewer employees receive the credit for every employee regardless of working or not.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all states including, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid. (Source: sba.gov

  • Up to $2 million in assistance to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
  • The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.
  • SBA offers long-term repayment to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined case-by-case, based upon borrower’s ability to repay.


Emergency EIDL Grants
The CARES Act expedites access to capital for small businesses that have applied for an SBA EIDL. Businesses will be allowed to request an advance of up to $10,000 on the loan to provide covered leave, maintain payroll, and pay debt obligations.

  • The SBA has provided more information about the EIDL and Loan Advance HERE.

 

Medium-Large Businesses
Employee Retention Credits
Employee Retention Credits are refundable payroll tax credits for 50% of wages paid by employers to employees up to $10,000 per employee.  This is available to employers whose:

  • Operations were fully or partially suspended due to COVID-19 shut down order
  • Gross receipts declined by more than 50% when compared to last quarter

Employers over 100 employees receive credit only for employees that are not providing service due to virus.


Employer Payroll Taxes
Employer Payroll Taxes can be deferred through the remainder of 2020. 

  • Employers and self-employed may defer 6.2% payroll tax through 2020
  • Taxes must be paid back over a period of the course of two years, equally by December 31, 2022
  • Ensures solvency of Social Security Trust Fund

 

Information for Unemployed Individuals
Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the CARES Act
The CARES Act provides expanded temporary support for American workers impacted by COVID-19. Overall, the bill provides $250 billion in funding, the largest increase ever, to give workers more access to unemployment benefits during this public health emergency and creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (Sec. 2102).

 The CARES Act provides a new unemployment program - Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

  • This program broadens the definition of unemployment eligibility to include self-employed and independent contractors, like gig workers and Uber drivers (in general, gig workers are those who enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies to provide services to the company's clients), as well as those who are unable to work or telework as a result of the coronavirus public health emergency.

The CARES Act also provides an emergency increase in unemployment compensation benefits of $600 per week for up to four months.

  • This additional compensation is in addition to Tennessee weekly unemployment compensation. 

The CARES Act also provides funding for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment for those who remain unemployed.

  • Tennessee: For information about Unemployment Benefits in Tennessee, you can find information provided by the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development here.

 

Information for Individuals, Families, Married Couples and Retirees
The CARES Act includes two important provisions that provide relief for individuals and families during this difficult time: the 2020 Recovery Rebates for Individuals (Sec. 2201) program and expanded unemployment benefits (Secs. 2101-2116).

The CARES Act included financial aid that will go directly to Americans who qualify:

  • Individuals with income at or below $75,000 ($112,500 for heads of households) will be eligible for a full credit amount of $1,200.
  • Couples with income at or below $150,000, will be eligible for a full credit amount of $2,400. 
  • Those with children will receive an additional $500 credit per child.

The size of the rebate will be reduced by $5 for every $100 your income exceeds these income limits, and the rebate will completely phase out for individuals whose income exceeds $99,000 and couples whose income exceeds $198,000.

Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return are also eligible and will not be required to file a return

  • The House Ways and Means Committee has provided information about these credits here and here.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has information about what you need to know here.

Help Stop the Spread of Germs
The CDC and TN DHS have valuable information on how you and your loved ones can best protect yourselves.

Steps you can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

Issues: