WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives today approved COVID-19 relief legislation that includes numerous bipartisan measures spearheaded by U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla. Most notably, it includes the core of Murphy’s bill to extend and enhance the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), which helps businesses retain and rehire workers. Murphy spent the last eight months leading this legislative initiative and building a broad bipartisan coalition behind ERTC expansion.
“While it took far too long and it is far from perfect, this bipartisan bill ensures American families, workers, and businesses receive immediate assistance after months of partisan bickering and inaction in Congress. I’m proud to have successfully included my bipartisan initiative to expand the employee retention tax credit, which has been proven to help workers and businesses,” said Murphy. “I’ll keep fighting to provide additional support to help our country get through this pandemic.”
Other Murphy-led measures in the COVID relief bill, which also funds the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, include:
Murphy’s bipartisan bill to empower states like Florida to allow workers who received overpayments of federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to retain those payments, if the worker was not at fault for the overpayment and if making the worker repay would cause them severe economic hardship.
Murphy’s bipartisan bill to enable K through 12 educators to take a federal tax deduction, of up to $250, if they purchase—out of their own funds—personal protective equipment, disinfectants, air purifiers, and other supplies to keep their classrooms, their students, and themselves safe.
Murphy’s floor amendment to protect U.S. national security, combat the threat posed by the regime of Nicolás Maduro, and support the people of Venezuela by increasing federal funding, from $30 million to $33 million, for State Department efforts—undertaken with Venezuelan partners—to promote fair elections, uphold human rights, strengthen civil society, defend the rule of law, and support independent media in Venezuela.
In addition, the COVID relief bill includes many other provisions important to Florida. For example:
Unemployment Insurance: The bill provides an additional $300 per week for all workers receiving unemployment benefits, through March 14, 2021. It also extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which expanded coverage to the self-employed, gig workers, and others in nontraditional employment, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides additional weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits to individuals who exhaust their regular state benefits.
Economic Impact Payments: The bill provides an additional round of Economic Impact Payments of $600 for individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 per year, as well as a $600 payment for each child dependent. This means a family of four will receive $2,400 in direct payments. Checks are expected to be sent starting next week.
Paycheck Protection Program: The bill includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans, and expands eligibility for 501(c)(6) nonprofits, including destination marketing organizations, local newspapers, and TV and radio broadcasters. Of this amount, $15 billion is for dedicated funding to live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions like museums and zoos.
Health: The bill provides $69 billion for vaccine procurement and distribution; testing, tracing and mitigation; mental health funding; support for health care providers; and NIH research on COVID-19.
Education, Child Care, and Food Assistance: The bill provides $82 billion for K through 12 schools and colleges and universities, $10 billion for child care facilities, and $26 billion for nutrition and agriculture.
Housing: The bill extends the existing CDC eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021. The bill also establishes the first-ever emergency federal rental assistance program ($25 billion) to be distributed by state and local governments. These funds will be targeted to families impacted by COVID that are struggling to make the rent and may have past due rent compounding on itself. These families will be able to utilize this assistance for past due rent, future rent payments, as well as to pay utility and energy bills and prevent shutoffs.
The COVID relief bill will now head to the Senate for a vote and is expected to be signed into law by the President in the coming days.