Legislative Update: COVID-19 Relief and Tax Extenders

Max Shenker

December 14, 2020 – Negotiations in Washington over additional COVID-19 relief remain unresolved.

Wall Street Journal, Dec. 10: “Top Senate Republicans signaled Thursday they wouldn’t accept a bipartisan group’s efforts to craft a compromise on state and local governments and liability protections during the pandemic, undercutting the coalition’s attempt to break the months-long impasse over a coronavirus relief package.”

Politico, Dec. 10: “Top lawmakers can’t even agree on where to start negotiations, much less how to finish them. Pelosi and Schumer continue to promote the bipartisan Senate talks but senior Republicans have coalesced around the White House’s $916 billion bill.”

Washington Post, Dec. 10: “Congressional bickering over a new economic relief package escalated Thursday as lawmakers traded blame and put negotiations over critical legislation on the brink of collapse.”

Wall Street Journal, Dec. 13: “A group of rank-and-file lawmakers made a last-minute push to craft a bipartisan coronavirus aid proposal, as leadership in both parties indicated they might drop the most contentious issues in the talks and pass a narrower bill.”

On Friday, December 11, 2020, the Senate passed and President Trump signed a short-term Continuing Resolution to delay the deadline for a government spending bill for one week. This follows the same action taken by the House earlier in the week. The delay buys an extra week for lawmakers to try and reach a deal on a long-term spending bill that could include COVID-19 related relief measures. The Washington Post reports that some in Congress expect this deadline to be moved again until even later in the month.

In parallel to the efforts to pass COVID-19 relief legislation, there remains the issue that 33 temporary tax provisions are scheduled to expire at the end of December. The extension of these measures is not necessarily tied to any COVID-19 relief. They are, however, much more likely tied to whether or not Congress can pass a long-term spending bill and not just another short-term Continuing Resolution. Some sources are suggesting that the Employee Retention Credit introduced in the CARES Act is being considered for extension in the context of this tax extender question instead of within the context of COVID-19 relief.

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