Fate of a Bipartisan Agreement on a Final COVID-Relief Bill Uncertain
On July 27, Senate Republicans unveiled their version of a $1 trillion COVID relief bill called the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. In line with AGC recommendations, the bill includes a transition away from the CARES Act $600 per week federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefit, improvements to and an expansion of the employee retention tax credit, the opportunity for businesses to apply for a second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, liability protections for businesses, and investments in career and technical training. However, the HEALS Act, like the House Democratic COVID-relief bill (the HEROES Act), includes little in the form of dedicated infrastructure investment despite declining state and local transportation construction revenues, the need to reconfigure, renovate and build schools and hospitals for safe and effective operations, and the lack of sufficient water and broadband infrastructure that many parts of the nation need for communities to endure a prolonged pandemic. As it stands, it is unclear if both parties will reach any agreement before the CARES Act federal UI benefit expires on July 31.
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