COVID-19 and Congress

By Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Affairs, Advocacy & Legislative Affairs, Goodwill Industries International

From schools to sporting events to conferences and the halls of Congress, the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is impacting everyone, and nonprofits are no exception. Nonprofit service providers, like local Goodwill® organizations around the country, are on the frontlines assisting those impacted while also having to address their own employees and business continuity plans. During a time when the sector has seen a decline in individual charitable giving, nonprofits may incur unanticipated costs from having to cancel events (including fundraisers) and may not benefit from the same reimbursements provided to other corporations or small businesses. They may receive a delay in certain grant payments or face uncertainty if they are unable to meet grant performance requirements during this time. Yet, these organizations do what is needed to meet an increasing need for services and stand ready to help make our communities whole when this passes – and this too shall pass…eventually.

At the time of this writing, Congress is acting swiftly to provide relief primarily to individuals and families who may be affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. The House Democrats introduced a package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201), which will likely be voted on and passed today. The Senate Democrats also outlined a proposal focused on economic and community-services. Senate Republican leadership have cancelled a recess that was scheduled for next week, so Senators can stay in Washington, DC and continue to negotiate a final package.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s press release notes the House bill will provide:

  • Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured
  • Paid emergency leave with both 14 days of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave
  • Enhanced unemployment insurance, a first step that will extend protections to furloughed workers
  • Strengthened food security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals, seniors nutrition and food banks
  • Clear protections for frontline workers, including health care workers and other workers who are in contact with those who have been exposed or are responsible for cleaning at-risk places
  • Increased federal funds for Medicaid, as states face increased costs

Goodwill Industries International is pleased that Congress is taking swift action to help meet the needs of so many individuals that we serve daily. However, a response package should also assist nonprofit responders, recognizing the uniqueness of the chartable nonprofit sector as they balance being an employer (the sector represents the third largest workforce in the country), a social enterprise that may be impacted by a reduction in consumer spending, and most importantly a provider of services to keep their communities afloat.

As Congressional negotiations continue, we’ll keep you – our advocates – informed of ways in which you can help amplify our ask.

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