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WASHINGTON, D.C. Sept. 8, 2020 – This afternoon, the Senate released its deficient, limited plan for additional COVID-19 relief. The so-called “skinny bill” focuses on providing widespread corporate immunity to employers whose workers and staff get sick on shift and extends Trump’s flawed, fraud-ridden Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Meanwhile, the legislation fails to provide adequate support to families in the form of rental assistance or unemployment insurance and leaves public schools high and dry.   Accountable.US released the following statement on behalf of its president, Kyle Herrig:  “The Senate’s new relief bill is a slap in the face to the millions of Americans struggling to provide for their families during this crisis. Without adequate support for people who have lost their jobs or sufficient funds to help small businesses stay afloat, it’s clear that lawmakers are more interested in helping the president and his allies with this bill than the workers who need support most.”   Here are some of the bill’s key failures:

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  • The bill extends the flawed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 
    • It includes: 
      • An additional $257 billion for the program and extends it to the end of the year.
      • Greater protections for lenders (banks).
      • A reaffirmation of the Trump administration’s interim final rule allowing churches and religious organizations to receive PPP loans. 
      • Provisions allowing some businesses to take out second loans, even though many businesses were excluded from the first round.
         
  • The bill hangs public schools out to dry. 
    • The bill codifies extra relief for private schools that has been overturned by several federal courts over the last few weeks. 
       
  • The bill withholds two-thirds of aid to local education agencies until governors approve reopening plans. 
    • There is a tax credit for individuals and corporations that make contributions to scholarship granting organizations for private schooling.
       
  • The bill does not include an extension of the $600/week boost to unemployment insurance. 
    • It instead includes language providing $300/week, through December 27, 2020.
       
  • The bill includes more Restrictions for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). 
    • The bill withholds USPS’ ability to spend its CARES Act funds unless USPS has less than $8 billion in cash on hand.
       
  • The bill provides for blanket corporate immunity for businesses that contribute to their employees or customers getting sick. 
    • 63 pages of the bill (22%) deals just with the corporate immunity proposal, which is expansive and permits companies to gain a safe harbor simply for making a “reasonable effort” to follow any government standard or guideline, regardless of conflicts amongst guidance between federal, state and local authorities. 
       
  • The bill includes a $184 million bailout for the coal industry and removes public lands protections and fast-tracks non-energy fuel mining 
    • The legislation would authorize the Department of Energy to spend $23 million per fiscal year starting in 2021 through 2028 to develop coal and coal byproducts. 
    • It would also grant the Secretary of the Interior broad authority to fast-track critical mineral mining on public lands.
       
  • The bill would ask more of states but would give more to pharmaceutical companies.
    • It would requires states to agree to provide matching funds to medical stockpiles starting 2022/FY2023.
    • The bill says the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund “may be used for the construction, alteration, or renovation of non-federally owned facilities for the production of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical supplies where the [HHS] Secretary determines that such a contract is necessary […]”
    Accountable.US is a nonpartisan watchdog group that exposes corruption across all levels of government.