Last Saturday, the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to approve H.R. 6201, a bill to provide relief for workers impacted by the coronavirus. The bill passed by a large bi-partisan majority, with a vote of 363-40. Both President Trump and Speaker Pelosi supported the legislation. Significant corrections were made on Monday by voice vote.
On Wednesday evening, the Senate approved the bill with no changes and it will now go to the President’s desk for his signature.
The bill would require employers with less than 500 employees to provide two work weeks of paid sick leave. Workers would qualify for the benefit if they are sick and have to be quarantined or treated for coronavirus, or if they have to leave their jobs to take care of a family member who has coronavirus.
Additionally, workers would also be eligible for paid sick leave if they have to stay home because they have a child whose school or childcare facility has closed due to the coronavirus. Additionally, family and medical leave for employers with less than 500 employees would be extended for 12 weeks. The first two weeks would be at the full rate and the last 10 at two-thirds of their regular pay.
To help small businesses impacted by this, the legislation gives employers a tax credit equal to 100% of paid sick leave wage benefits they have paid out. The tax credit is allowed against the tax imposed by section 3111(a) (the employer portion of Social Security taxes).
The Senate will now consider a so-called “third” bill on coronavirus, one that could be as much as $1 trillion or more in stimulus. There are possible loan guarantees for impacted industries, and possible direct cash payments to workers.
Additionally, the Secretary of the Treasury announced that the April 15 deadline can be missed for tax payments with no penalties, for as much as 90 days. He also said the Federal Reserve will purchase as much as $1 trillion in commercial paper to maintain liquidity.
As ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman has already echoed in her statement earlier today, in addition to keeping a close watch over the legislations above, ACSA is making extraordinary efforts to make Congress aware of the plight of small, craft distillers and to ensure that any measures passed provide meaningful relief to our industry. Our Board and Coronavirus Task Force also speaks daily in order to maintain an aggressive posture to blunt the impacts of this crisis.
Just yesterday, we joined beer, wine, spirits and cider to send a letter to the leaders of Congress asking for relief for our industry. ACSA also joined DISCUS and the New York and Kentucky distillers seeking the same.
Finally, ACSA will be a seeking bigger and more fundamental request of Congress that would move our industry into the 21st Century, giving parity to our members in order to build small business and allow them to better weather a financial crisis .
As Margie has mentioned already, we are here to support you, our nation’s community of craft distillers, and look forward to working together to advocate for much-needed relief in this time of uncertainty.
The Pennsylvania Avenue Group
Public Policy Advisor to the American Craft Spirits Association