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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

D.C. remains deadlocked on the next stimulus package, days after extended unemployment benefits ended and days before PPP is set to expire.

Where it stands: One unresolved issue that hasn't gotten enough attention is a proposed expansion of the employee retention credit, which could have a significant impact for companies that have experienced severe revenue declines.

The backdrop: The CARES Act established the initial version, a refundable payroll tax credit that could cover up to $5,000 per employee, for businesses that had suffered at least 50% revenue loss.

  • Caveat #1: If a company received a PPP loan, it wasn't eligible.
  • Caveat #2: If a company had more than 100 employees who remained working full time, including remotely, it wasn't eligible.
  • Caveat conclusion: For most companies, this credit wasn't too valuable.

What's new: Both new stimulus plans — HEROES Act (D), HEALS Act (R) — are much more generous.

  • HEROES increases the credit to up to $36k per employee (or up to 80% of wages paid per retained employee), with sliding-scale revenue eligibility for companies with revenue drop of between 10% and 50%. It increases the limit on working employees to 1,500.
  • HEALS increases the credit to up to $30k per employee (or up to 65% of wages paid per retained employee), with the revenue decline threshold cut to 25%. It increases the limit on working employees to 500.
  • Neither proposal restricts companies that received PPP loans, although they're silent on companies that participate in a possible PPP extension.

The bottom line: There are still partisan differences, but both sides are moving in the same direction on this, which suggests more flexibility than on thornier issues like school funding and liability protections.

Go deeper

Oct 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

House passes revised $2.2 trillion stimulus bill

Photo: Tom Williams / Getty Images

The House passed Democrats' revised $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill 214-207 on Thursday as 11th-hour negotiations between leaders for a bipartisan deal continue.

Why it matters: The legislation, a slimmed down version of the House's initial $3.4 trillion HEROES Act, is Democrats' last ditch effort to strike a stimulus deal with the White House and Senate Republicans before Election Day, though many lawmakers admit they think the legislation has little chance of becoming law.

Updated 19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 219-213 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.

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