Senate Releases COVID-19 Relief Bills

  • Tuesday, 28 July 2020 09:38

Ethanol Producer Magazine

Jul 27, 2020

Legislation released by the U.S. Senate on July 27 could provide relief to biofuel producers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A separate bill introduced on the same day aims to benefit workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., on July 27 introduced an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that provides $306 billion in emergency appropriations to aid American families and businesses suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. While the bill does not provide dedicated relief for biofuel producers, one provision of the bill provides $20 billion of additional funding to the USDA to support agricultural producers, growers and processors impacted by COVID-19.

That $20 billion funding would provide support for agricultural producers, growers, and processors impacted by COVID-19, including producers, growers and processors of specialty crops, non-specialty crops, dairy, livestock and poultry. Biofuel producers would be considered eligible entities under the program.

“This is a good first step towards healing the damage wrought by COVID-19, but falls short of providing the necessary clarity that would have been provided in Senators Ernst, Grassley and Klobuchar's proposed language," said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. "The next critical step in a final agreement between House and Senate is to provide additional certainty around the nature of biofuel industry relief to ensure our producers have access to this much needed assistance. Our fight is far from over, especially with the number of retroactive refinery exemption applications continuing to rise and COVID-19 depressing trade to our key ethanol markets abroad. It’s encouraging to know that we have House and Senate leaders in our corner who understand that protecting America’s biofuel workforce now is vital to rebuilding our nation’s agricultural supply chain and markets for American farmers.”

separate bill released by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassey, R-Iowa, would provide further relief for workers affected by COVID-19; assistance to individuals, families, and employers to reopen the economy; support for patients, nursing home residents, providers and foster youth in responding to COVID-19; additional flexibility and accountability for coronavirus relief fund payments and state tax certainty for employers and employees.

One section of that bill, would provide supplemental unemployment insurance payments of $200 per week through September. Starting in October, the payment would be replaced with a payment of up to $500, that when combined with the state unemployment insurance payment, would replace 70 percent of lost wages. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which was signed into law in March, provides a $600 per week supplemental unemployment insurance payment through the end of July.

Another section of the bill would create a second recovery rebate payment of $1,200 to all U.S. citizens and U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000. For married couples with gross income up to $150,000, the payment would be $2,400. An additional rebate of $500 per dependent would be available. The amount of the rebate would phase out completely for single filers that exceed $99,000 and joint filers with no children and income over $198,000.

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