Congress Passes $1.9T COVID Stimulus Package

March 11, 2021

Congress yesterday approved a sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package for the still-struggling U.S. economy, delivering President Biden his first significant legislative victory since taking office.

The bill, titled the American Rescue Plan, includes another round of stimulus checks up to $1,400 for most Americans; extended, additional unemployment benefits for millions of Americans still out of work; and $350 billion in total aid to states, local governments, tribal governments and U.S. territories. Importantly for many associations and nonprofit organizations financially impacted by the long pandemic, the bill includes another $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); expands eligibility for the PPP to include most Section 501(c) nonprofit organizations, not just 501(c)(3)s and 501(c)(6) entities; and lifts “affiliation rules” for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) groups so that an organization’s employee headcount would be considered “per physical location” rather than in-total across all locations. As such, a 501(c)(3) with more than 500 employees and/or a 501(c)(6) with more than 300 employees – but working at multiple offices – would be eligible for PPP loans. Read ASAE’s Issue Brief on the American Rescue Plan Act for more information about provisions in the bill.

While ASAE supports the further PPP eligibility expansion to include more types of nonprofit organizations, the legislation unfortunately does not extend the PPP’s current March 31 expiration. ASAE and other business interests continue to press Congress for a PPP extension and leaders of the House Small Business Committee struck a bipartisan agreement this week to extend the PPP’s loan application deadline to May 31. The House will reportedly vote on the bill next week.

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act this afternoon and congressional Democrats hailed its passage as a significant step toward recovery for American households, states and cities, and those waiting for COVID-19 vaccination.

“For weeks now, an overwhelming percentage of Americans – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – have made it clear they support the American Rescue Plan,” Biden said yesterday. “Today, with final passage in the House of Representatives, their voice has been heard. This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance.”

The 220-to-211 vote in the House yesterday included no Republican support, and congressional Republicans continue to characterize the bill as more costly than necessary and littered with liberal spending priorities.

“Democrats made a choice: a choice to put their own partisan political ambitions ahead of the needs of the working class, ahead of the needs of the American people,” said Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee. “When our Democratic colleagues speak of unity, they mean keeping their party together, not keeping this country together.”

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