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Senate Republicans Release Next Proposed Phase of COVID Relief

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On Monday evening, the Senate released outlines and drafts of a $1 trillion COVID-19 relief package, called the HEALS Act. This proposal is Republicans’ opening position and will morph significantly before a final package is agreed on and passed. Due to disagreement within the Republican conference, the legislation is being released in discreet packages, though Leader McConnell has indicated that the next COVID-19 relief package will be the last. The package as written will also face opposition from Senate Democrats, and House Democrats passed their own $3 trillion Heroes Act in May.

NRMCA Government Affairs is reviewing the package and will provide additional updates on issues impacting the ready mixed concrete industry. While the package is subject to change, here are several of the highlights:

Modifications to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP):

  • Expands the types of expenses that businesses may cover using PPP funds;
  • Provides additional flexibility on loan window;
  • Simplifies loan forgiveness eligibility requirements;
  • Makes some businesses eligible for second PPP loan; and
  • Limited inclusion of 501(c)6 organizations.

Limitations on unemployment insurance:

  • Unemployment benefits will be extended at a lower threshold through September and then be capped at 70% of lost income

Expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC):

  • Increases the refundable ERTC from 50% of wages to 65% of wages per employee, subject to a per-employee cap and overall company cap;
  • Expands credit to cover for all wages paid to employee (rather than just wages paid for not performing services as under CARES Act); and
  • Allows employers to take advantage of both PPP loan and ERTC with limits on overlapping benefits.

Liability protection for businesses:

  • Creates a federal cause of action preempting more restrictive state laws; and
  • Safe harbor for defendants who took reasonable efforts to comply with applicable mandatory standards and regulations.

Provisions of the package are subject to negotiation and change, but we understand that liability protection is one of Republicans’ highest priorities. The package did not include additional funding for state and local governments, such as funding for state departments of transportation. Timing on final passage of this COVID-19 relief package is uncertain and will almost certainly bleed into August. The House and Senate are expected to be in session for at least the first week of August and members have been advised that they will be on call through August recess.

For more information, contact Andrew Tyrrell at


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