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COVID, Bill, Filled with SMACNA Priorities, Signed into Law

Jan 07, 2021

Capitol and Money 600x354Congress passed H.R. 133, The Consolidated Appropriations Act, a sweeping year-end bill to provide long-delayed coronavirus relief and fund the government, capping off a months-long hold-up as millions awaited more assistance. The Senate voted 92-6 on the $2.3 trillion package, which includes $1.4 trillion to fund the government and $900 billion in coronavirus relief, the first time Congress has passed additional aid since April. The bill passed the House in two separate votes (327-85 / Funding section) (359-53 / COVID Relief section) December 21, 2020.

Contained in the major legislative package included long-endorsed SMACNA priorities over many years of contractor advocacy. A brief summary:

  • Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction. 179D provision made permanent. The deduction for energy efficiency improvements to building envelope, heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water systems of commercial buildings is also indexed. Also added a far larger Federal performance contracting retrofit program at GSA for 2021.

  • PPP Reforms. The COVID bill clarifies that businesses can deduct expenses associated with their forgiven PPP loans, in addition to expanding the employee retention credit intended to prevent layoffs and allowing 501C6 groups to secure PPP loan funds.

  • $325 Billion Small Business Loans, Assistance. Small businesses (under 300 employees) would see a total of $325 billion, including $284 billion in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, $20 billion for businesses in low-income communities, and $15 billion for struggling live venues, movie theaters, and museums.

  • School Construction Funding. Included HVAC / IAQ as options in the $82 billion total for colleges and universities is more than $4 billion for a governors’ relief fund, more than $54 billion for public K-12 schools and nearly $23 billion for a higher education fund. Separately, the childcare sector will receive about $10 billion in emergency upgrades.

  • Federal Contractor Relief. Continues a CARES Act program that allows contractors to keep employees on the payroll even if federal facilities close.

  • Major Federal Water Infrastructure Funds. $10 billion in water system projects. 

  • Building Energy / Efficiency programs. Comprehensive federal and state package.

  • Transportation System Infrastructure. Includes $15 billion to help airlines maintain their payrolls, $14 billion for mass transit, $10 billion for state highways, $2 billion for airports, and $1 billion for Amtrak.

  • Sick Leave Payroll Tax Subsidy. Extended for employers offering but no longer requiring worker paid sick leave.

Passage of the bills came after complaints from all sides about the political brinkmanship and small group of leaders drafting process that left most lawmakers with just a few hours to read the colossal 5,593-page bill before casting their votes. The $3.7 trillion appropriations and COVID-relief package was signed into law by President Trump on December 28, 2020, moments before an impending federal government shutdown.