New $908B Bipartisan Stimulus Proposal Sets Funds Aside For Rental Assistance, More PPP, Unemployment
A group of bipartisan lawmakers attempted to break political gridlock in Washington, D.C., with the Tuesday rollout of a proposed $908B pandemic relief package that incorporates another round of the Paycheck Protection Program along with funding for rent relief and aid for hard-hit small businesses. Not included: individual stimulus checks.
A chart referenced by centrist members of Congress on CNBC shows the stimulus plan, if passed, would allocate another $180B in unemployment relief (at the lower $300 per week supplement) and support distressed workers and their landlords with $25B set aside for rental housing assistance.
The proposal also includes another $288B to support a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program. While the details of the PPP line item have not been thoroughly revealed, the early chart presented by members of Congress suggests the PPP funds are considered part of a larger effort to help small businesses, including restaurants, stage venues and other industries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Not long after bipartisan members of Congress revealed the plan, Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he's sticking with a smaller stimulus package proposed by members of the Senate weeks earlier and is pushing forward with that version, the Chicago Tribune reports. McConnell's plan reportedly does not include rental housing relief, Vox reports.
For restaurants, the bipartisan proposal is a good start, but not the full menu of rescue items the industry was hoping for after more than nine months of lockdowns, traffic drops, closings and layoffs.
"The $908B stimulus proposal includes some much-needed short-term stopgaps that will help restaurants continue to serve their communities during the holiday season," Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement. "The bill provides several of the tools that we proposed in our Blueprint for Restaurant Revival, including a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and temporary liability protections for operators."
While that is helpful, Kennedy said more focused restaurant relief is needed when the lame-duck session is over and Congress returns after the holidays.
"The restaurant industry has been the hardest hit by the pandemic and recent limitations in dozens of states are pushing operators beyond their limits to survive," Kennedy said. "We hope that after the holiday, Congress will be ready to discuss industry-specific solutions — including the Senate version of the RESTAURANTS Act — that will help the nation’s second largest private-sector employer contribute to its economic revival in 2021.”
The multifamily industry also found several positive nuggets in the proposed stimulus bill as the industry continues to balance a tenant class that is struggling with joblessness, a lack of cash flow and what the industry considers to be misguided eviction moratoriums that create financial instability throughout the asset class.
The short-term liability protections included in the bipartisan bill have been challenged by Democratic lawmakers in the past but are considered necessary to help restaurants, apartments and other businesses feel safe from liability when operating in the middle of a hard-to-control pandemic.
The National Multifamily Housing Council lauded the proposed plan for including key measures that focus on stabilizing workers, particularly those impacting tenants.
"While we are looking forward to reviewing the full package, NMHC is encouraged that the proposal announced this morning includes designated funds for rental assistance, additional unemployment benefits, and short-term liability protections — priorities NMHC has been highlighting for months," NMHC Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Cindy Chetti said in a statement.
"We continue to call for a comprehensive package that supports renters struggling due to the pandemic, keeps the nation’s rental housing sector stable and does not continue short-sighted eviction moratoria which will only result in untenable amounts of debt for households across the country.”
Neither McConnell's plan nor the bipartisan proposal includes a second round of stimulus checks, which is a major blow to renter households and working-class Americans, according to CoStar Group data. The analytics firm found in a survey of households that wage and salary disbursements for low-income families hovered 2.6% below pre-recession levels.
The stimulus checks had filled in for the lack of specific housing assistance earlier this year. Nearly 10% of respondents said they used the last stimulus checks from the government for rent, 20% spent it on food and another roughly 7.5% used the stimulus money to cover the mortgage, CoStar reported.