WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) voted in favor of the bipartisan omnibus and COVID-19 relief bill that will provide another round of direct checks to hardworking North Carolinians and assistance to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The omnibus legislation includes multiple bipartisan provisions spearheaded by Senator Tillis including assistance for North Carolina farmers, help for small businesses, and protections for American intellectual property.
The COVID-19 relief package extends the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and adds deductibility for PPP expenses while also giving businesses experiencing severe revenue reductions an opportunity to apply for a second round of PPP loans. The bill also includes a second round of $600 stimulus checks for hardworking North Carolinians and funds for the continued development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, my top priority has been protecting the physical health and economic future of North Carolinians,” said Senator Tillis. “That’s why I have worked hard to introduce legislation that will benefit every North Carolinian and pushed for follow-up relief to help families and businesses in need as so many are still suffering from the effects of this pandemic. I strongly support this package that will distribute another round of stimulus checks, provide help to Americans who have lost their jobs, and provide much-needed loans to small businesses so they can keep their doors open. I applaud my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and in both chambers, for coming together to pass this important relief.”
Tillis Priorities Secured for North Carolina:
- The Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act: This package includes forgiveness for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $150,000 or less if the borrower submits a simple, legally-binding, one-page form to the lender. This threshold would account for 86% of total PPP recipients. Many banks had previously indicated they would not participate. Many banks are indicating they will not participate in the second round of PPP without enhanced forgiveness options and 87% of all North Carolina businesses PPP loans would be forgiven under this change.
- The Save Our Stages Act: This bipartisan legislation provides $15 billion to support live music and event venues, movie theaters, and museums, many of which drive local economic activity, especially in parts of North Carolina centered on tourism.
- The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2019: This bipartisan legislation makes the Craft Beer Modernization Act tax provisions permanent.
- The Small Business Expense Protection Act of 2020: This bipartisan legislation that would provide additional flexibility to the PPP by allowing businesses to access tax deductions when utilizing funds derived from a PPP loan. This would allow financially-strapped businesses the ability to stretch their PPP loan as needed, providing an additional boost to liquidity.
- Assistance for North Carolina Health Care Providers: The package includes provisions supporting North Carolina’s health care workers by preventing payment cuts, delaying the Medicare sequester, and providing key flexibilities and certainty to health care providers receiving support from the Provider Relief Fund.
- Protects Patients from Surprise Medical Bills: This package ensures that North Carolinians are held harmless from surprise medical bills and ensures that patients know what to expect in advance of scheduled procedures. Senator Tillis was a co-sponsor of the STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act.
- Assistance for North Carolina Agriculture: The package includes assistance to livestock and poultry farmers who had to depopulate animals due to COVID-19-caused supply chain disruptions. Senator Tillis was an original co-sponsor of the RELIEF for Producers Act. It also includes $200 million in assistance to the North Carolina logging industry. Senator Tillis is a co-sponsor of the Loggers Relief Act. Additionally, the bill also provides critical support to North Carolina livestock and poultry contract growers and textile industry impacted by COVID-19.
Assistance for North Carolina:
- Airlines Payroll Support Program: Senator Tillis worked directly with American Airlines’ CEO, North Carolina’s largest air service provider, and Senate leadership to provide an extension to the PSP, which will provide $16 billion in additional assistance for furloughed airline employees and contractors. This means over 1,000 North Carolinians in the airline industry who were furloughed during the pandemic will receive paychecks for back pay this Christmas. In addition, a provision was included in this spending package that will bring air service back online for the Pitt-Greenville (PGV) airport by the first week of January. PGV lost air service in October and hasn’t regained flights since.
- Beach Renourishment: The package includes authorization for continued federal support of beach renourishment projects in Wrightsville, Carolina and Kure Beaches, authorizing $53.8 million in federal funding for use over the remaining lifetime of the Wrightsville Beach renourishment project. It also authorizes a 15-year extension of the beach renourishment project at Carolina and Kure Beaches, providing $24.2 million set to begin in 2022. Additionally, the package provides authorization for the port of Wilmington deepening project.
- Elizabeth City Airport Runway: The package includes $25 million included to bring a critical runway back on line; this investment will enhance the U.S. Coast Guard’s training and readiness capabilities, strengthen the U.S. Coast Guard’s existing relationship with the Elizabeth City community, and also provide a desperately needed runway that will directly benefit Elizabeth City State University—which has the only four-year collegiate aviation education program in North Carolina.
- Improved Broadband: Includes $7 billion for broadband activities, including $635 million for the USDA’s ReConnect program. Earlier this year, Senator Tillis sent the Secretary of Agriculture a letter urging the expedited approval of ReConnect awards.
- Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act: Tillis co-sponsored the CERTS Act to provide $2 billion in grants from the U.S. Department of Treasury for passenger transportation services, including the bus, motor coach, and passenger vessel industry that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Education and Support for HBCUs:
- Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020: Senator Tillis co-sponsored legislation which provides $10 billion for child care, including direct support for child care providers for fixed costs and operating expenses, to help ensure working parents can work or return to work.
- HBCU Capital Financing Loan Program Debt Forgiveness: Senator Tillis worked with his colleagues in both chambers, including Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) to secure a provision that will forgive outstanding debt of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that already received loans under the program.
- Connecting Minority Communities Act: The Tillis co-sponsored legislation to establish an Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and appropriate $285 million to support HBCUs, MSIs, and qualifying partnerships with minority-owned businesses to receive internet access.
- Closing Felony Streaming Loophole: Senator Tillis introduced bipartisan legislation which punish large-scale criminal streaming services that willfully and for commercial advantage or private financial gain offer to the public illicit services dedicated to illegally streaming copyrighted material. It only applies to commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services. The law will not sweep in normal practices by online service providers, good faith business disputes, noncommercial activities, or in any way impact individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works. Individuals who might use pirate streaming services will not be affected.
- CASE Act: The bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Tillis makes it easier and less expensive for independent creators, such as photographers, songwriters, and graphic artists, to protect their creative works from theft by establishing a small claims tribunal in the Copyright Office.
- Trademark Modernization Act: Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Tillis combats the recent flood of fraudulent trademark applications from China that rely on doctored photographs to procure these registrations. These fraudulent trademarks make it difficult for American consumers and businesses by making it difficult for new businesses to obtain trademark protection for their commercially valuable label. This legislation creates new procedures to improve trademark examination effectiveness and efficiency, helping ensure that customers can look at a trademark and reliably know who is selling them a given good or service.
- High Efficiency Turbine Amendment: The package provides $50 million each year from FY 2021-2025 to support research and development of high efficiency gas turbines.
- Investment Tax Credit (ITC): The package extends the investment tax credit for solar through 2022 at its current rate of 26 percent, before the credit declines to 22 percent in 2023. Earlier this year, Senator Tillis led a letter to Senate leadership requesting assistance for the clean energy sector to mitigate clean energy job losses.