Washington Snapshot

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Monday, March 15, 2021 - 12:00 pm
Stephanie Powers

In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...

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American Rescue Plan

On Thursday, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (H.R. 1319). The law extends some provisions in previous COVID-19 relief legislation, such as unemployment insurance, the paid sick time and paid family leave credits, and the employee retention tax credit. The law expands the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to more nonprofits and provides funding for state, local, and Tribal governments. It also includes direct stimulus payments of $1,400 to most Americans and expands the Child Tax Credit, making it accessible to the poorest American parents. The Council on Foundations and other nonprofit organizations released a joint statement recognizing the support for nonprofits and communities included and urging Congress to pass additional relief for charities at this critical time. Read Independent Sector’s analysis of the bill’s impact on nonprofits here and the White House’s summary here. Find the President’s remarks here.

Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act

A bipartisan group of Senators and members of the House of Representatives introduced legislation to expand the temporary $300 charitable originally created by the CARES Act. If enacted, the Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act (S.618/H.R.1704) would increase the charitable deduction for taxpayers who do not itemize to one third the standard deduction or about $4,000 for singles and $8,000 for married couples for 2021 and 2022 and would include gifts to donor advised funds. The Council on Foundations is one of many organizations supporting the legislation.

Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced the Ultra Millionaire Tax Act (S.510/H.R.1459) last week. If enacted, the legislation would tax two percent of the assets of individuals with a net worth higher than $50 million and three percent of assets of individuals with a net worth higher than $1 billion.

Congressional Hearings

Justice for All: Achieving Racial Equity Through Fair Access to Housing and Financial Services

The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on the role the housing and financial services industries can play in dismantling systemic racism, particularly as the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated issues of racial inequity within the U.S. economy. Witnesses included Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change; Paulina Gonzalez-Brito, the executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition; John C. Yang, the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice; and Ian Rowe, the president and co-founder of Vertex Partnership Academies.

A Year into the Pandemic: The State of International Development

The House Foreign Affairs International Development, International Organizations and Global Corporate Impact Subcommittee heard from Rajiv Shah, president of Rockefeller Foundation, and Bonnie Glick, senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on the challenges the COVID-19 crisis has created in the U.S.’s global development infrastructure. Dr. Shah testified that “American leadership is indispensable on the global stage when it comes to tackling the challenges in front of us,” particularly as the world continues to recover from the pandemic.

Executive & Regulatory News IconExecutive & Regulatory Affairs

White House

On March 11, President Joe Biden announced new appointments for Senate confirmation for key roles at the Treasury Department, including Lily Batchelder as Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy.

Among the Executive Orders President Biden signed this past week:

Department of Agriculture

In September 2021, the United Nations will convene a Food Systems Summit with the objective of launching bold new actions to build healthier, more sustainable, and equitable food systems around the world. In the lead-up to the global event, the UN is inviting stakeholders from all sectors, across all food systems, to participate. On March 17, USDA will host an informational webinar for organizations with an interest in food systems, food security, agricultural production, and related issues about how they can get involved with the Summit’s preparations and activities. Register here.

Find more information about the Summit at:

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA has announced the availability of up to $6 million in grant funding under the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program and the Environmental Justice Small Grants (EJSG) Program. The grants are meant to support vulnerable and overburdened communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental health risks. EPA will give special consideration to the following focus areas:

  • Addressing COVID-19 concerns faced by low-income communities and communities of color
  • Climate change and natural disaster resiliency outreach and planning
  • New applicants to either grant funding opportunity
  • Ports Initiative to assist people living and working near ports across the country
  • Small non-profits

Applicants must submit proposal packages by May 7, 2021 for projects that will begin on October 1, 2021. Interested applicants are encouraged to participate in a pre-application assistance call or webinar on March 2 or April 7 (en Español).

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

CMS, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued updated guidance this week to enable nursing homes to safely expand visitation options during the COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency. More than three million doses of vaccines have been administered in nursing homes though the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program. According to the updated guidance, facilities can allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident, or visitor, unless certain scenarios arise that would limit visitation. Fact Sheet here.

Health Resources and Services Administration

HRSA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have launched a program to directly allocate COVID-19 vaccine to HRSA-supported health centers. HRSA-funded health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver affordable, accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary health care. Over 91% of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and nearly 63% are racial/ethnic minorities. Under this collaboration, the centers will accelerate the delivery of vaccines to medically underserved communities and disproportionately affected populations through rapid expansion of participating facilities. During a first phase of the program, 250 health centers that serve the following populations will participate:

  • Individuals experiencing homelessness,
  • Public housing residents,
  • Migrant/seasonal agricultural workers, or
  • Patients with limited English proficiency

In the second phase, 700 centers will be added, including those that:

  • Serve high proportions of low income and minority patients,
  • Provide services to rural/frontier populations,
  • Operate Tribal/Urban Indian Health Programs, and/or
  • Utilize mobile vans to deliver services

Find the map of the health centers here.

Federal Reserve Banks (New York)

The New York Fed, in partnership with the AARP, will host a virtual event titled The State of the 50+ Entrepreneur, on May 30, 2pm-4:30pm ET. This event will bring together thought leaders, researchers, and policymakers to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older business owners and their firms, and what might be done to help their recovery. A new report that examines the state of older business owners and their firms, as well as challenges they have faced historically and amidst the coronavirus pandemic, will be shared. Register here.

Department of Homeland Security

Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA is working to speed up vaccinations by supporting states as they open community vaccine centers across the country. The agency and its interagency partners continue to stand-up and provide support to additional sites daily:

  • This week, federal Community Vaccination Pilot sites opened in Chicago, Illinois and in Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • Within the next two weeks, sites will open in Atlanta, Georgia, and Cleveland, Ohio.

FEMA’s annual Hazard Mitigation 2020 Year in Review publication provides an overview of the activities and accomplishments over the course of the year. It highlights success stories that demonstrate how the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Division advances FEMA's strategic goals of building a culture of preparedness and readying the nation for catastrophic disaster through their grant programs.

Department of Labor

DOL issued an enforcement policy statement on March 10 announcing that it will not enforce two Trump-era rules published by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) on the use of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in retirement plan investments and exercise of shareholder rights in connection with plan investments: Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments and Fiduciary Duties Regarding Proxy Voting and Shareholder Rights. The Department clarified that the non-enforcement statement does not stop them from enforcing ERISA’s duties of prudence and loyalty or any other statutory requirement under ERISA. The Department plans to revisit both rules and will update its website as more information becomes available.

Department of Treasury

On March 2, the U.S. Treasury's Office of Inspector General (OIG) also released a new memorandum outlining new reporting and record retention requirements for Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) recipients. CRF was part of the CARES Act passed in March of 2020.

State Policy IconHappening in the States

Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

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Remote Governance and Nonprofit Regulations

As the pandemic continues, lawmakers in several states are seeking to extend or rewrite laws that regulate how nonprofits can conduct business. Legislation moving in Idaho would permit nonprofit boards to conduct their meetings and voting remotely. In New York, policymakers are looking to extend authorization of remote meetings until the end of the current disaster emergency or Dec. 31, 2021, whichever is later. A bill in  would modernize the Nonprofit Corporation Act to permit electronic communications for meetings, among other things. However, proposed legislation in North Carolina would allow for-profit businesses, but not nonprofits, to use remote communications for their meetings. The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits is leading advocacy efforts to ensure nonprofits have equal access. They urge the General Assembly to update nonprofit laws to make “common sense changes to allow nonprofits to use technology to … meet and vote remotely.” One recommendation is to change the “opt in” laws on use of email for votes by unanimous written consent to “opt out” rules.

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