Washington Snapshot

Washington Snapshot: FARA Hearing, Judge Jackson's Confirmation, and More

Friday, April 8, 2022 - 12:58 pm
Stephanie Powers

What's Happening This Week...

Please note: The Council releases new editions of Washington Snapshot in line with the congressional calendar. We expect to publish the next edition in late April when Congress reconvenes unless there is breaking news affecting the philanthropic sector.

Happening at the Council

On the Blog: Jamie Merisotis, Chair of New Ethics Task Force

In a new blog post, Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, shares his guiding principles as Chair of the Council's new ethics task force. Read his post to learn how the task force will hold philanthropy accountable and encourage members to practice their values.

Foundations on the Hill 2022 Wraps Up

Yesterday marked the end of another successful year of FOTH programming. We thank United Philanthropy Forum and the Independent Sector for their continued partnership in building our sector’s public policy and advocacy muscle. Thank you to the speakers for their enlightening and invigorating content, and thank you to all who attended. We look forward to working together on FOTH 2023.

Happening on the Hill

Council Submits Written Testimony to Senate Finance Committee

Council President and CEO Kathleen Enright recently submitted testimony to the Senate Finance Committee on the hearing Examining Charitable Giving and Trends in the Nonprofit Sector, which took place on March 17. She reiterated the need for Congress to prioritize legislation that promotes a thriving charitable sector, calling on Congress to: expand and extend charitable giving incentives such as the charitable deduction for nonitemizers; protect charitable giving vehicles, including donor-advised funds; and support the nonprofit community during a time of economic upheaval. Read the full testimony.

House Holds Hearing on Enhancements to Foreign Agents Registration Act

This week, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing on Enhancing the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938. The hearing included testimony from the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law’s Nick Robinson, who urged Congress to consider legislative fixes to FARA’s sweeping provisions, which could unintentionally undermine nonprofits’ work with international partners. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrod Nadler (D-NY) emphasized that any enhancements to FARA would have to also consider possible consequences on the nonprofit sector. Some members of the committee were sympathetic to the idea that FARA requires reform to better target those lobbying on behalf of a foreign government or political party, while others stressed that the law should not be politicized.

The Council on Foundations supports modernizing FARA to ensure philanthropic organizations that work with leaders and partners across the globe to achieve their missions here in the US and abroad can thrive.

IRS Commissioner Testifies in Senate Finance Committee

This week, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig testified on the IRS’s FY2023 budget request in front of the Senate Finance Committee. He explained the agency was asking for additional funding. The Biden Administration believes that increased oversight of high-wealth individuals would decrease the so-called tax gap—the difference between the amount the IRS should collect and the amount the agency collects annually.

Judge Jackson Confirmed to the Supreme Court

On Thursday, the Senate voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Justice Jackson will be the first Black woman and first former public defender to sit on the Supreme Court. Justice Stephen Breyer announced his intention to retire at the end of the Court’s 2021-2022 term earlier this year.

Happening in the Executive Branch

FEMA Continues Funding to Support Safe Operation of Schools

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may provide funding to eligible government and nonprofits, including schools and school districts, for measures implemented for the safe opening and operation of schools in response to COVID-19, including:

  • Purchase and distribution of high-quality masks and PPE
  • Cleaning and disinfection, including necessary supplies and equipment above the applicant’s regularly budgeted costs
  • COVID-19 diagnostic and screening testing
  • Tools for screening and temperature scanning
  • Acquisition and installation of temporary physical barriers to provide additional space (e.g., screens/dividers) and signage to support social distancing, such as floor decals
  • School-located vaccination clinics for students, staff, parents, and school communities.

Schools and school districts may utilize FEMA Public Assistance to receive full reimbursement for the eligible purposes. FEMA will reimburse 100 percent of the eligible costs associated with these activities from the beginning of the incident period through July 1, 2022.

For details on eligible entities and costs, consult Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Safe Opening and Operation Work Eligible for Public Assistance (Interim).

Happening in the States

National Council of Nonprofits

Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

Employment Policies in States

State legislators are devoting considerable attention this year to legislation affecting employers, including nonprofits, and their employees. In recent days, Illinois and Kentucky enacted measures to spend some of their American Rescue Plan Act allocations to replenish their state unemployment trust funds. Bills pending in three states focus on expanding workplace benefits. A measure in the California Senate (S.B. 1126) would expand the requirement that employers offer a retirement savings option to employees. Kentucky is considering a bill (H.B. 499) to establish an Employee Child-Care Assistance Partnership, a revolving fund for employers to contribute and the state to match up to 100% of contributions for employers. Minnesota legislation (H.F. 11) would create a Small Employer Transitional Health Care tax credit for qualified individuals employed at small employers enrolled in a state healthcare plan. 

Workplace transparency and confidentiality are also hot topics. Washington Governor Inslee signed legislation (S.B. 5761) to require employers with 15 or more employees to disclose the hourly pay rate or salary range, benefits, and other compensation in a job posting. In New York, Governor Hochul signed a bill (S. 5870) that includes disclosure of an employee’s personnel files as a prohibited form of retaliation against an employee for opposition to or for filing a complaint or for testifying or assisting in a proceeding involving unlawful discriminatory practices. She also signed a bill (A. 2035B) to establish a confidential hotline for complaints of workplace sexual harassment.

Philanthropic Partnerships Distribute ARPA Funds

The participation of philanthropic organizations in promoting ARPA distributions, while not new, has become increasingly important and better documented. One clear trend is the reliance by governments on local philanthropic organizations to identify eligible grant recipients and administer ARPA funds. A community grant program in OmahaNebraska designates two local philanthropic organizations to administer $15 million in ARPA funds to qualifying nonprofits. The Omaha Community Foundation will distribute $10 million in categories such as workforce development and violence intervention and prevention, while United Way of the Midlands will deliver $5 million in categories that address basic needs. Policymakers in San Marcos, Texas, have turned to three community foundations that have relationships with nonprofits in the region to administer the $3 million Nonprofit Community Grant Program.

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