The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the fifth Coronavirus stimulus package, H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. Passage of the $3 trillion package came swiftly after Democratic leadership introduced the bill earlier this week. The bill passed on a 208-199 vote.
Included in the bill are key provisions to strengthen the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that has continued to evolve in its implementation since initially established in March under H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The bill appropriates an additional $10 billion in funding for the EIDL funding. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) late last week began decreasing the loan limit for the program for small businesses and blocking new applications due to the popularity of the program.
The HEROES legislation modifies the PPP including eliminating the 75/25 rule, which requires that 75 percent of the loan is used for payroll costs, while the other 25 percent can be used for rent, mortgages or utilities. This rule was not the original intent of Congress when establishing the PPP, furthermore, many small businesses do not need to spend 75 percent on payroll.
In addition, many small businesses are worried that their loans may not be forgiven due to a lack of guidance by SBA and the U.S. Department of Treasury. The HEROES Act will require forgiveness data collection and reporting.
Other provisions to the PPP include:
- Adds flexibility in the covered period for borrowers by extending the eight-week period to 24 weeks and extends the covered period from June 30 to Dec. 31.
- Establishes a minimum maturity on PPP loans of five years.
- Harmonizes the use of proceeds with forgiveness.
- Creates a safe harbor for borrowers who cannot rehire in the prescribed time frame.
- Ensures the principal and interest loan assistance is not treated as taxable income to small business borrowers.
ASA has been working to ensure that small independent automotive repair facilities are considered as “essential services” by federal, state and local governments and are not overlooked during the economic stimulus responses to this global health crisis.
The U.S. Senate has not yet scheduled consideration of the Fifth Stimulus legislation.