Back to top
Back to top

COVID-19 Public Policy Tab

Introduction

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Congress drafted legislation aimed at providing aid and relief to the economy, businesses, nonprofits, and the American people.

As of April 3, 2020, Congress has passed three COVID-19 related stimulus packages and is already gearing up for a fourth. These economic measures have been released in phases, with the lastest (Phase Three) being enacted last week. Below you will find specific information about each bill, how the bill may impact the sector, and what the Forum is doing to keep members engaged and informed.

If you have any questions regarding these measures, please contact Matthew L. Evans, Forum Director of Public Policy.

COVID-19 Legislation

Phase 1

H.R. 6074: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (Enacted March 6, 2020)
This bill provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

House Appropriations Committee Summary
Congressional Research Service Report

House voted 415-2 to pass on March 4, 2020.
Senate voted 96-1 to pass on March 5, 2020.

Phase 2

H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Enacted March 18, 2020)
This bill responds to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing paid sick leave, tax credits, and free COVID-19 testing; expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits; and increasing Medicaid funding.

House Appropriations Committee Summary
Congressional Research Service Guidance

House voted 363- 40 to pass on March 14, 2020.
Senate voted 90-8 to pass on March 18, 2020.

Phase 3

H.R. 748: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act - CARES Act (Enacted March 27, 2020)
This bill responds to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses. The bill provides FY2020 supplemental appropriations for federal agencies to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The supplemental appropriations are designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.

Senate Appropriations Committee Summary
Senate Finance Committee Summary
House Appropriations Committee Summary
Congressional Research Service Report

Senate voted 96-0 to pass on March 25, 2020.
House voted by voice vote to pass on March 27, 2020.

Phase 3.5

H.R. 266: Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (Enacted April 24, 2020)
This bill responds to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing additional funding for small business loans, health care providers, and COVID-19 testing.

House Appropriations Committee Summary 

Senate voted by voice vote to pass on April 21, 2020.
House voted 388-5 to pass on April 23, 2020.

What Does It Mean For the Sector?

While Phase 1 was designed to help fight the spread of the virus by providing extra funding to agencies like the CDC and the FDA, Phases 2 and 3 were designed to help stimulate the economy.

Phase 2 - H.R. 6201, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

This bill includes several provisions beneficial to nonprofits:

  1. Two weeks of paid sick leave for nonprofits with 500 employees or less.
    • Up to $511 per day
    • Up to $200 per day for family member impacted by COVID-19
  2. Additional family and medical leave.
    • Up to 12 weeks.
  3. Refundable payroll tax credit.

Phase 3 - H.R. 748: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act - CARES Act

This bill includes several provisions beneficial to nonprofits:

  1. Paycheck Protection Program Loans (PPP)
    • Qualified small businesses (500 or fewer employees) are eligible to borrow 250 percent of their average monthly payroll expenses, up to a total of $10 million.
    • Employers that maintain employment between February 15 and June 30 would be eligible to have their loans forgiven.
    • U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program Loan, here.
  2. Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
    • For "private nonprofit organizations" with 500 or fewer employees.
    • Applicants may request an advance of up to $10,000 (EIDL Grant), to be paid within three days.
    • Grants will not need to be repaid, even if the application is denied.
  3. Refundable payroll tax credit.
    • Up to $5,000 per employee
    • Nonprofits that choose the payroll tax credit may not apply for the loan program.
    • See IRS Guidance, here.

Bill also includes provisions beneficial to philanthropy:

  1. A temporary universal charitable giving incentive for gifts to $300.
    • GIves all taxpayers an incentive to give.
    • Applies to cash contributions made in 2020.
  2. Suspends limitation on deductions for cash contributions to charities for taxpayers who itemize.
    • Increases the existing annual cap from 60% AGI to 100%.
    • Corporation annual limits are raised from 10% to 25%.
CARES Act Resources

 

Forum Advocacy Efforts

During the legislative drafting process for Phases Two and Three, the Forum and other national sector leaders joined together to advocate on behalf of all nonprofits.

Congressional Outreach

In March, United Philanthropy Forum joined with national nonprofit and philanthropy-serving organizations in a monumental grassroots effort, relating to proposed COVID-19 economic stimulus package legislation. The Forum has shared letters addressed to Congressional leaders with its members, who shared them across their networks while also reaching out to Members of Congress.

On March 12, 2020, the Forum signed on to a letter to Congressional offices outlining why nonprofits must be included in COVID-19 stimulus package legislation. This letter highlighted practical policy examples and solutions for Members of Congress to think about when drafting legislation. On March 14, 2020, the House voted 363-40 to pass H.R. 6201, Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This bill ensures that nonprofits can use a tax credit to offer paid leave for their employees – one of the requests in the letter. 

On March 18, 2020, the Forum signed on to a second letter that asks Congress to provide an infusion of $60 billion in capital to America’s charitable nonprofits to maintain operations, expand the scope to address increasing demands, and stabilize losses from closures throughout the country.

On April 20, 2020, the Forum joined several members of the Charitable Giving Coalition in a letter to Members of Congress, asking that DAFs and Supporting Organizations be treated equally with other public charities in COVID-19 relief legislation.


Calls to Action

Forum staff issued calls to action to our members via two public policy action alerts. These action alerts asked PSOs and their members to reach out to Senators, as they debated the CARES Act.

The first action alert was issued on March 19, 2020, and an updated action alert was issued on March 21, 2020.

Each alert received an overwhelming response from our members. PSOs from across the country activated their networks and sent messages to their elected officials. Their hard work paid off, as both bills included favorable provisions for the sector.

As we look forward to Phase 4 legislation, we encourage members to reach out to us with questions and to be on the lookout for future alerts.

Find out more about these efforts

Forum Member Resources and Contributions

Forum member PSOs from across the country have put together valuable resources that help guide foundations and nonprofits through these large pieces of legislation. Here you will find a collection of those resources from the unique perspectives of various regional or national PSOs.

If you would like to add something to this section, please contact Matthew L. Evans, Director of Public Policy.

CARES Act: Breaking Down $2 Trillion Public Health & Economic Relief Package
by Seyron Foo, Southern California Grantmakers

Comprehensive COVID-19 Legislation Guide for the Charitable Sector
by Legal Team, Council on Foundations

Summary of COVID-19 Aid Package: What Philanthropy Needs to Know
by Funders Together to End Homelessness

CMF Letter to Michigan Governor in Support of Nonprofits
by Council of Michigan Foundations

Philanthropy West Virginia Partners with State Government to Promote Charitable Accountability
by Philanthropy West Virginia

Washington, D.C. Deserves Pandemic Relief Funding Equal to States 
by Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers