Surely you’re aware by now that Congress has finally come to an agreement on the next COVID package, which will be part of the FY2021 spending bill. The bill is over 5,000 pages but I have been so far been able to parse out the issues on which we’ve been focused.
Bad news first: liability protection is not included in this round of relief. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that no further relief would pass without this provision, however, Democrats could not support the bill with this provision while Republicans could not support the bill if it included the hundreds of billions in state and local aid that Democrats wanted.
Inclusion of either or both provisions was simply not an option, and therefore both provisions were dropped in an effort to move the bill forward. Please note that these two issues have prevented passage of this bill since mid-summer and neither side was going to budge. The only hopes of a liability protection provision being included in another COVID relief bill are pinned to Republicans keeping their thin Senate majority after the January 5 Georgia runoff.
Good news: pretty much all of our other priorities are included in the bill. The PPP program will be extended through the end of March 2021, there will be a second draw program for small businesses that continue to struggle, 501(c)6 organizations will be eligible for PPP loans with some conditions, and most importantly small businesses will be able to make deductions for qualified expenses made with PPP funds.
Additionally, Section 179D related to energy efficient tax credits for commercial entities will be made permanent and adjusted for inflation. Section 25C related to residential energy efficient tax credits is extended for another year. The AIM Act will also be part of the package, which means in the HVACR sector there will be a timeframe for the phasedown in use of HFCs and transition to the next generation of refrigerants, and also prevent other states from setting their own phase-down/transition schedules. These are pretty significant wins in the HVAC space.
The legislation still needs to pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President. The House is expected to vote this evening, the Senate is expected to subsequently fast-track it, and this could become law before Christmas. I’ll keep you posted if anything changes.
Honestly, I’ve been doing this for roughly 15 years and in that entire time I don’t remember ever expecting to get this much out of one piece of legislation.
I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have, Chuck and I are working through the details.
Director, Legislative Affairs
Charles R. White
Vice President of Regulatory Affairs
Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association