Senate Unanimously Passes CARES Act

The Senate passed the CARES Act package 96-0 shortly before midnight after Sen. Sasse’s (R-NE) amendment, which would have changed the bill’s unemployment benefits, failed (48-48).  The Senate is now adjourned until April 20.  (Note:  Non-essential businesses in DC are shut down per the Mayor’s order until April 24.)

The bill as passed, however, did undergo a change from the earlier version, reflecting a more rigorous reporting requirement in terms of loans made to businesses under the bill’s provisions.  The bill text as passed is here.

Also, here is a summary of the tax and unemployment insurance provisions in the bill.

The House is scheduled to take up the bill Friday morning at 9 a.m.  It’s still not clear if it will require a roll call vote, but in anticipation that some member(s) may insist on that (as is their right under House rules), the House leaders would be expected to temporarily change the voting procedures so as to allow Members to vote by proxy.  The hope is this will deter the insistence on a recorded outcome; most Members are not in town.

Previously:

Information about the Phase 3 Coronavirus Stimulus Package -  S. 3548 The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – has been coming out throughout the day.

The package is largely agreed to among Senators, though nothing is truly agreed to until everything is actually agreed to/voted on.  There is a hold up in the Senate vote due to an objection by a handful of GOP Senators who contend that the proposed expansion of unemployment benefits (see Section 2104 – highlighted in this document) is too generous.  It’s not the extended length of benefits (an extra month) to which they object, but the extra amount available per week ($600.00).  It is unclear if this will be remedied tonight; though there is a chance, it remains to be seen.

The Government and Regulatory Affairs team at Clark Hill has compiled a thorough yet long document, found below, that integrates a summary of the bill in a section-by-section format.  The bill text itself is both lengthy and complex, and there will be no committee report that accompanies it, leaving much of the work for its provisions to be implemented and interpreted by federal agencies.

The bill is organized into two sections: 1) Division A , which has most of the direct spending provisions of the measure (entitlement or entitlement-like programs to include small business lending, unemployment benefits, health care provisions, relief for specific industry sectors, and the State Stabilization Fund; and 2) Division B, which contains emergency appropriations included in the measure through dozens of traditional programs plus a number of sector specific “stabilization” funds – like education.

There are some significant changes in this bill compared to the measure originally introduced last week. 

  • Small business loan provisions. Provisions previously were limited to companies with no more than 500 employees.  The final version significantly alters that to companies with no more than 500 employees per location and allocates $349 billion to the loan provisions. 
  • Hospitals.  The bill includes a so-called “Marshall Plan” for hospitals that would send $100 billion to hospitals in need of cash for supplies and staffing, while another $11 billion would go toward a potential vaccine and therapeutics.   There are additional funds for community health centers, funds for states and local government (separate from the Stabilization Fund), and a number of other provisions. 
  • State Stabilization Fund.  The bill creates a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for state, territorial, tribal and local governments. All but $11 billion would go directly to states. The $11 billion would be for the District of Columbia, territories and tribal governments. Local governments with 500,000 or more residents would be able to apply for their own direct funding, with smaller ones needing to go through their state sums. A population-based formula would determine the amount each state receives, with no state seeing less than $1.25 billion, including the funds set for local governments.

There is more spending in Division B, the appropriations section of the bill, in comparison to what was first proposed. The funds are across a range of areas including public transit, education, housing, and health.

Some key documents:

These provisions will take some time to digest, and the measure’s final enactment – while probable – is not currently 100% guaranteed.