Washington Snapshot: Coronavirus Emergency Legislation in Negotiation
In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...
- News from the Council
- News from the Hill
- Department of Commerce
- National Telecommunications and Information Administration
- Department of Education
- Divergent Views on Donor Disclosures
Effective, Friday, March 13, the Council on Foundations has moved to complete remote operations through the end of March. We want to protect the health and safety of all staff, temporary workers and their families as well as do our part to “Flatten the Curve” of the virus. An acceleration in closings and emergency declarations in the local DC region guided our decision. As we all grapple with this global pandemic, our thoughts are with people and communities being impacted most.
Funders might find our COVID-19 Resource Hub a resource with up-to-date information on happenings in and around the philanthropy sector. The Council hosted a funder to funder call with over 500 attendees on March 12 that featured six Council member foundations that are directly engaged in establishing community funds, grantmaking and actively responding to the coronavirus crisis in their local communities as well as globally. We are pleased to share the important work and expertise of our members regarding this national crisis so we are providing complementary access to the recording on our website.
Also a valuable resource for the funder community is the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP)’s dedicated page on the Coronavirus (COVID-19 virus). You can also view the recording of their March 5 Covid-19 Webinar.
While they weren't able to finalize an agreement after an intense day of negotiations on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounded hopeful Friday morning that a deal would be struck with the White House before the weekend. The speaker also announced in a "Dear Colleague" letter that the House will begin working on a third "emergency response package" right away. The Senate will adjourn for the weekend but Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has decided to keep the Senate in session next week, pulling them back from a previously planned recess week.
The pending bill, H.R. 6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act, would provide access to food, affordable testing and paid time off for people whose lives are disrupted by the virus. What we hear from our sources on Capitol Hill is that the package in negotiation has some credits for businesses to help them absorb the costs of offering leave to employees because of the spreading virus. One being discussed is a refundable credit to help companies with fewer than 500 employees grant paid sick leave. Another is a credit which would reimburse companies forced to pay family leave costs. It is not clear whether either of these are currently contemplated to be structured to address nonprofit employers.
President Trump is pressing Congress to also pass a payroll tax cut, but there appears to be little chance for this to be included in this bill. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are cool to this. Congressional leaders have said it could be part of a third package, but that would likely not be taken up for several weeks. But there is always a possibility that the Senate will add onto the bill when they take it up next week.
A coalition of 30 nonprofit organizations, in a March 11 letter to Congress, advocated that nonprofits be included in any economic stimulus package to combat the effects of the coronavirus, potentially through credits or deductions for unrelated business income taxes and incentives for donating to charitable nonprofits affected by the virus. It would appear that there is language in H.R. 6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act that states that “nonprofits and other employers with 50 or fewer employees would be subject to the paid leave requirement, but could receive dollar-for-dollar reimbursement from the Treasury for these expenses.”
Stay tuned for more details next week after the bill’s expected passage.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
On March 3, the NOAA released the NOAA Science Report highlighting the vital services that Americans use every day.
2020 Census Invitations Arrive March 12-20
Ninety-five percent or about 143 million households in the country will receive an initial invitation to respond to the 2020 Census in their mailboxes between March 12 and 20. Households are encouraged to respond when they receive their invitation. Learn more about the 2020 Census.
Small Business Administration
The SBA will offer small businesses impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19) up to $2 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance (EIDL). Under the EIDL program the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
On March 18, BroadbandUSA will host NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations Webinar. Hear from key agencies that participate in the American Broadband Initiative and about the one year Milestones Report. Get an update on the initiative and the work to build the National Broadband Availability Map (NBAM), USDA’s the ReConnect program, and some of agency’s regulatory changes that affect broadband permitting. The U.S. Department of the Interior will cover important changes to broadband permitting policies. Register here.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued new resources on March 12 to assist education leaders in protecting student privacy and ensuring students with disabilities continue to receive services required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the event of school closures due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Department also released important information for K-12 educators on flexibilities the Department could grant when it comes to the accountability standards required by law under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). View the department’s COVID-19 information and resources page.
Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.
Across the country, policymakers, nonprofits, and foundations have diverse views on if and when the names of donors should be disclosed – whether publicly, just privately to government officials, or not at all. In New York, most people appear to be united in opposition to language in the Governor’s budget that seeks to require charitable nonprofits that have gross revenues exceeding $250,000 to identify and make public the names of all donors who provide $5,000 or more, or 2 percent of the charity's total donations. The Governor reportedly is concerned that some charitable nonprofits might be shifting money to social welfare 501(c)(4) organizations for partisan and lobbying activities. More than 140 organizations have signed onto the Memorandum in Opposition to the proposal.
A different issue is the subject of legislation in Oklahoma and Utah: whether state law enforcement officials should be able to require nonprofits to submit – on a confidential basis – their unredacted Form 990 Schedule Bs that are prepared and filed with the IRS. The Utah version of a donor disclosure bill generally restricts demands from governments for the names of nonprofit members and donors, but retains the power of tax enforcers in the state to require and retain donor information. An Oklahoma bill would prevent state and local governments from requiring disclosures of donors to any type of 501(c) organizations, whether charitable or noncharitable. The legality of whether states may mandate disclosures to law enforcement has been submitted for review before the U.S. Supreme Court. Lower courts ruled that the California Attorney General could require that all nonprofits regularly submit their unredacted Schedule Bs. A decision on whether the Court will hear the cases - Thomas More Law Center v. Becerra and Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra – could come by this summer.