Congress Passes $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Package With Implications for Cleaning Industry

March 10, 2021

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a US$1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package with implications for the cleaning industry. U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the legislation, which the Senate passed last week.

The bill (the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, H.R. 1319) contains several provisions with implications for the cleaning industry. Highlights for the industry include:

State and Local Aid – Includes $360 billion to help state, local, tribal, and territorial governments pay for unbudgeted expenses tied to the COVID-19 emergency.

Education – Provides $176 billion for education, including grants to states to support local educational agencies in addressing learning loss.

Transportation – Provides $56 billion to transportation, including grants to transit agencies, which could use the money for operating expenses including payroll and personal protective equipment (PPE) costs.

Small Business Aid

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Increases funding and expands eligibility for the PPP and allows forgiveness for additional expenses.
  • Disaster loans: Additional funding will be made available for advance payments to eligible entities under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Labor Provisions

  • Unemployment extensions: Modifies and extends several pandemic-related unemployment benefits created under the CARES Act and extended under the year-end spending and aid package. For example, the measure will extend the $300 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. The payments will apply to weeks of unemployment after March 14 and through September 6.
  • Workplace safety: Provides $150 million for the U.S. Labor Department to carry out worker protection activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tax Provisions

  • Direct payments: Provides another round of direct payments to those who qualify—$1,400 for an individual, $2,800 for joint filers, and $1,400 for each qualifying dependent.
  • Employee retention credit: Extends through December 31 an employee retention credit established by the CARES Act. Employers will receive refundable credits against the Medicare payroll tax beginning July 1.
  • Paid leave credits: Extends through September 30 tax credits for employer-provided paid sick and family leave, which were established under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Of note for the cleaning industry, the legislation does not include an increase in the federal minimum wage, which was part of President Biden’s original COVID-19 relief proposal, nor does the bill include a Healthy and Safe Workplace Tax Credit, which ISSA strongly supports to help businesses cover the costs of cleaning and disinfecting, PPE, employee training and certification, and more.

ISSA is leading a coalition of more than 50 trade associations to pass a Healthy and Safe Workplace Tax Credit, a bipartisan and commonsense proposal to help businesses uphold cleanliness levels, protect employees, and give the public confidence when visiting facilities. To learn more about the federal response to COVID-19, including this tax credit, register for ISSA’s virtual Clean Advocacy Summit, March 30-31, as part of National Cleaning Week. For questions regarding ISSA advocacy, including the Healthy and Safe Workplace Tax Credit, please contact ISSA Director of Government Affairs John Nothdurft.