by Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Relations, Goodwill Industries International
For those who closely follow politics or enjoy geeking out on House and Senate rules of procedure, this has been an exciting week as we have been waiting on the Parliamentarian to issue a ruling on what items can stay in the reconciliation bill. For the majority of the country, this was another week where people are struggling to make ends meet under the stress of a pandemic and in the wake of more weather-related disasters. The good news is that Congress has taken another step in moving a bill forward which could provide much needed support to nonprofits like Goodwill® and the communities we serve.
Congress is using a procedure called “reconciliation” to pass the next COVID-19 package, the American Rescue Plan, which will allow the Senate to pass it with a simple majority. Otherwise, they would need to obtain support from every Democrat and 10 Republican Senators to avoid a filibuster that could block the bill. At the time of this writing, the House is reviewing the bill in the House Rules Committee and the full House will vote on the bill later this evening. The bill will then go to the Senate where changes will be made in order to comply with the rules issues by the Parliamentarian. For example, the language to increase the federal minimum wage will be removed from the bill. Upon passage of the bill in the Senate, the new text will have to go back to the House for passage. Ultimately it will go to the President for his signature. Congress is trying to get all of this done by March 14 as that is when a number of current COVID-19 related programs are set to expire.
As we’ve previously reported, there were some promising developments on the #Relief4Charities issues and issues of importance to local Goodwill organizations and the communities we serve in the packages that passed out of the House Committees. These include more funding for worker protections, child care, schools, and food assistance among other items; an increase in the amount of federal unemployment insurance reimbursement given to nonprofits who self-insure; expanded access to the Paycheck Protection Program to certain nonprofits with more than 500 employees; and $350 billion in aid to states and localities from which nonprofits can benefit.
While the Senate negotiates the details of what will be the final bill, join us in contacting your Senators and highlight the areas that need to be improved upon in order to provide the most important types of #Relief4Charities.
Nonprofits like Goodwill have an important role to play in recovery efforts post pandemic, and we need support from Congress to help us do so. Thanks in advance for being a part of our Congressional outreach efforts.