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A New Marshall Plan: Congress Nears Passage of CARES Act

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After midnight on the East Coast on Wednesday, March 25, negotiators from the U.S. Congress and Trump Administration finally agreed to the framework of a historic $2 trillion bill. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) constitutes a new Marshall Plan for our nation. Congress is expected to approve this landmark legislation swiftly, which will set off an unprecedented flurry of activity at federal agencies as they implement wide-ranging provisions that will quickly send critically needed funding to all sectors of the U.S. economy and to individuals.

Download the CARES Act Final Legislative Text

Arent Fox professionals in the Government Relations, Finance, Tax, Health Care, Labor & Employment, Real Estate, Food and Drug, and other practice groups have been actively engaged during the development of this legislation. We have reviewed this comprehensive bill and have prepared the following summaries of key provisions for our clients. We look forward to the opportunity to help our clients navigate the legislation, agency implementation, and the application of its diverse initiatives to your enterprises.

Among the most salient provisions are:

  • Establishment of a $500 billion loan guarantee program for larger companies as well as for nonprofits from 500 to 10,000 employees that the Treasury Department will implement within 10 days.
  • $350 billion for new small business lending that includes companies, nonprofits, and others with up to 500 employees (and, in some limited exceptions for larger businesses).
  • Deferral of the payment by employers of the 6.2 percent payroll tax for their employees until Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Additional enhancements to employee sick leave and family and medical leave laws as well as significant new funding for unemployment insurance.
  • $100 billion in direct financial assistance to hospitals, $1.3 billion in supplemental funding for community health centers, and other provisions designed to cover costs of diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 and the financial losses healthcare providers are facing.
  • Provisions aimed at getting vaccines and medications for COVID-19 developed and approved more quickly
  • One-time payments for each American ($1,200) and child ($500) with phasing out at higher income levels.
  • Additional funding for safety-net programs such as $900 million for the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income families with energy bills; and $15.5 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides low-income families with healthy food.

Read Our Analysis

Our Former Members React

This legislation is staggering in its breadth, cost, and urgency. Its ambitious scope is a testament to the rising sense of national emergency,  and the stakes for the entire domestic economy. This programmatic surge is aimed at staving off a degringolade in the American health care system, and liquidation of vital companies and nonprofits that are part of the fabric of our society.

The agreement is encouraging, but vividly highlights the political fault lines and ideological divisions plaguing Congress - and suggests the challenges policymakers face in responding to the crisis going forward.

Philip S. English
Senior Government Relations Advisor, DC

The Senate agreement on the Covid-19 response legislation is a major step forward in providing unprecedented relief to both the health care providers and to the larger economy as our country wages the battle to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

This is the single largest appropriation of federal funds in the history of our country. It is the right kind of emergency response to a national crisis.

The Senate agreement reflects the urgency of providing strong, immediate support to the health care industry and its workers and to other American industries and their employees who are affected by the economic shutdown. This legislation can be an economic life preserver to begin offsetting the cost of the staggering health care crisis and the cost of the economic shutdown in response to the virus.

More action will be needed in the weeks ahead, but today the U.S. Senate has sent an urgent message to the American people that help is on the way.

Byron Dorgan
Senior Policy Advisor, DC

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