Washington Snapshot

Washington Snapshot: Ask your Congressperson to co-sponsor the Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act, plus updates from the Hill and White House.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 2:30 pm
Stephanie Powers

In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...

News IconNews from the Council

Supporting Atlanta, GA and Boulder, CO in the Wake of Tragedy

Our country is grieving more lives lost in Monday's shooting in Boulder, CO, even as we're still reeling from the deadly attack in Atlanta last week. In the wake of these tragedies, we are called to unite as a sector to support the local communities affected. The Community Foundation of Boulder County with several other local foundations created a Crisis Fund to directly aid the victims and their families, and the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta is directing support to Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta.

Take Action on Expanding the Charitable Deduction

Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House and Senate expanding the temporary charitable deduction originally passed as part of the CARES Act. Urge your members of Congress to co-sponsor the Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act (S.618/H.R.1704).

Congress IconNews from the Hill

Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act

The Senate overwhelmingly passed the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act (S.723/H.R.1799) on Thursday, paving the way for President Biden to sign it into law. The bill will extend the PPP program another two months, allowing organizations to submit applications until the end of May. The Small Businesses Administration will have an additional 30 days to process applications. In February, the Council on Foundations joined a coalition of nonprofit organizations urging members of Congress to extend the March 31 application deadline.

Congressional Committees Discuss Changes to the Tax Code

Congress is expected to consider tax reform this year. The Senate Budget Committee heard from witnesses including Abigail Disney and tax experts about changes to corporate taxes and increasing IRS funding to help prevent tax evasion. The Senate Finance Committee met to discuss international tax reform, particularly as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development have started discussions of global minimum tax proposals.

Executive & Regulatory News IconExecutive & Regulatory Affairs

White House

The White House will release President Biden’s discretionary funding request next week, triggering the start of lawmakers’ work on the federal government’s 2022 Fiscal Year spending bills. A more complete budget is expected to be released in May that will give a fuller picture of how the President’s agenda of investments and tax reforms fit together fiscally and economically, especially those that will address the overlapping crises of the pandemic and economic recovery. The discretionary funding request will contain the breakdown of proposed funding levels for each federal agency, while outlining certain investments in areas like clean energy, education, public health, and elevating historically disadvantaged communities.

On March 25, President Biden announced a $10 billion federal investment to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and build vaccine confidence in the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities. The program will

  • Expand access to vaccines in underserved communities and provide health care workers services to support COVID-19 prevention and control,
  • Send vaccines directly to local pharmacies and Community Health Centers that disproportionately serve vulnerable populations,
  • Launch hundreds of mobile clinics to meet people where they are, and
  • Set up an equity partnership to vaccinate dialysis patients.

Find further details in the White House Fact Sheet.

The Administration launched the Small and Less Populous Island Economies (SALPIE) Initiative on March 22. The initiative is an economic cooperation framework designed to strengthen U.S. collaboration with island countries and territories in the Caribbean, North Atlantic, and Pacific regions and prioritizes U.S. cooperation with these economies to counter COVID-19 economic challenges and advance longer-term shared interests on climate issues and economic recovery.

Department of Agriculture

Rural Development

Rural Utilities Service officials will host an informational webinar about the recently published ReConnect Regulation. The session will provide an overview of both rounds of ReConnect Program funding, an overview of the ReConnect Regulation, and the open public comment process. The Broadband ReConnect Program furnishes loans and grants to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas. Two sessions will be available: March 30 or April 14.

Department of Commerce

Small Business Administration

On March 23, the SBA announced it will increase the maximum amount small businesses and non-profit organizations can borrow through its COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Starting the week of April 6, 2021, the SBA is raising the loan limit for the COVID-19 EIDL program from 6-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to up to 24-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000.

Department of Energy

DOE announced an ambitious new target to cut the cost of solar energy by 60% within the next ten years, in addition to nearly $128 million in funding to lower costs, improve performance, and speed the deployment of solar energy technologies. These investments support the Biden Administration’s climate goals and will pave the way for affordable decarbonization of the energy system and a robust clean energy economy.

Office of Electricity

The Office of Electricity (OE) announced a new webinar series focused on wildfire mitigation. The four-part series in April will highlight DOE national laboratories’ wildfire mitigation capabilities and available technologies to improve electric infrastructure resiliency during fires. The schedule:

  • April 8, 2-4 PM ET: Sensing & Detection | Fire Testing Capabilities
  • April 15, 2-4 PM ET: Situational Awareness
  • April 22, 2-4 PM ET: Modeling & Analytical Tools
  • April 29, 2-4 PM ET: Modeling & Analytical Tools | Post-Fire Analysis

The public is invited to attend. Webinars will be recorded and posted to OE’s webpage.

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is holding an open discussion and listening session on April 23, 1-3pm ET to hear from nonprofit leaders in brownfields assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment projects. Registration on the agency’s website will start on Friday, April 2. The meeting discussion questions include: How does your nonprofit organization view its role in brownfields cleanup and redevelopment? What benefits and barriers exist to nonprofits leading brownfield cleanup and redevelopment projects? How can EPA best engage with nonprofit organizations that are most interested in leading brownfields cleanup and redevelopment? In addition to the virtual session, stakeholders may respond in writing to the guiding questions through April 23, 2021 and should be submitted through email to EPA's Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization at BUILDAct@epa.gov.

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services

On March 23, President Biden announced that the special enrollment period for securing private health insurance through the nation’s public exchanges has been extended by three months. Originally set to close on May 15, the enrollment period now will end on Aug. 15. This will give consumers more time to take advantage of new savings authorized in the recently enacted American Rescue Plan. Changes in that $1.9 trillion stimulus package include expanding the premium subsidies (technically tax credits) that are available through the federal marketplace and state exchanges and expanding who qualifies for the financial help.

Department of Homeland Security

Federal Emergency Management Agency

In early April, FEMA will begin providing financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020 for deaths related to coronavirus (COVID-19) to help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020 for a death attributed to COVID-19. A dedicated 800 number is being established to help individuals who apply. For more details regarding the eligibility criteria and required documentation, consult the policy fact sheet.

Department of Treasury

Internal Revenue Service

On March 17, the IRS announced that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021 to May 17, 2021. This extension is for individual taxpayers only; it does not delay the due date for Form 990s for nonprofits nor tax filings for other businesses.

Department of Veterans' Affairs

The VA announced that the SAVE LIVES Act signed into law on March 25 will expand VA’s legal authority to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all Veterans, regardless of their VA health care enrollment status and to their spouses, caregivers and some beneficiaries. The SAVE LIVES Act removed some of the legal limits on the medical care that VA can provide to Veterans, based on health care eligibility and priority groups.

State Policy IconHappening in the States

Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

National Council of Nonprofits logo

State and Local Budgets Split, Federal Aid Expected to Fill Gaps

More than half of the states and 700 cities had budget shortfalls in 2020 despite quick reactions to the coronavirus pandemic by their policymakers and budget officials. Cities experienced an aggregate shortfall of $90 billion due to lower property tax receipts and lack of any aid federal relief under the CARES Act, according to an analysis by the National League of Cities. Reports from other jurisdictions paint a rosier picture: that tax revenues were up $3.2 billion in 2020 from 2019, and overall, revenues were down by less than 0.2 percent, after some adjustments. However, the aggregate data hide large disparities, particularly among states that rely on energy revenues and tourism dollars. Revenues fell by 10 percent or more in Alaska, Florida, Hawai’i, North Dakota, Oregon, and Texas.

State and local governments may use American Rescue Plan Act funds to fill budget shortfalls, restore vacant or cut positions and programs, or provide state stimulus funding and direct relief to taxpayers and nonprofits. Some local governments are looking to use those funds to support their communities through expenditures for vaccine distribution, small businesses and the work of nonprofits, broadband expansion, food and housing assistance, and more. Several states (Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah ) had already announced or made headway on tax cuts and tax reform, which the Treasury Department stated must be offset with their own funds to avoid conflict with the American Rescue Plan.

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