American Rescue Plan includes provisions helpful for museums

U.S. Capitol at dusk

Later today, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to approve the version of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 which recently passed the Senate on a party-line vote. House approval will send the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery bill for President Biden’s signature.

While much of the media has focused on the direct payments to Americans and provisions to extend unemployment compensation, there are a number of provisions of particular interest to the ASTC community:

  • Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG). The legislation includes new flexibility that our community has been asking for: the ability to apply for both an SVOG and a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in 2021. Any funds from a First or Second Draw PPP loan would then be deducted from an SVOG award to avoid double dipping. Stay tuned for additional details about how this would work. The bill also provides an additional $1.25 billion for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, including a $500,000 set-aside that would provide technical assistance to help entities apply for grants. Note that despite advocacy by ASTC and other stakeholders, the bill makes no change to the requirement for “fixed audience seating.”
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The legislation provides an additional $7.25 billion in funding for PPP and extends eligibility to “additional covered nonprofit entities,” including those not previously eligible that receive and spend less than 15% of receipts and expenses on lobbying, spend less than $1 million on lobbying, and employ not more than 300 employees. The American Rescue Plan Act also eliminates affiliation rules for nonprofits, allowing organizations that employ up to 500 employees per location to be eligible.
  • Targeted EIDL Advance. The bill provides an additional $15 billion for the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance program and directs the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to make $5 billion of any remaining funding available for supplemental grants to “severely impacted” organizations that have suffered an economic loss of greater than 50% and have ten employees or fewer.
  • Provides $840 million to the SBA for administrative costs to prevent, prepare, and respond to the COVID–19 pandemic and $25 million for SBA’s Office of Inspector General for oversight.
  • Extends the subsidy for non-profit employers who self-ensure through September 6, 2021 and increases the subsidy from 50% to 75% for weeks after March 31.
  • Extends the Employee Retention Tax Credit through December 31, 2021 and allows the hardest hit organizations to count all wages as qualifying wages.
  • Establishes a new dedicated grant relief program for restaurants will receive $25 billion.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will receive $1 billion to strengthen vaccine confidence, to provide information and education about vaccines, and improve rates of vaccination.
  • The bill provides $40 billion to support childcare, $130 billion to help K-12 schools reopen safely, $40 billion to America’s higher education institutions, and $7 billion to expand broadband access.
  • Several Federal agencies will receive additional funding to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus” including the following:
    • National Science Foundation: $600 million “to fund or extend new and existing research grants, cooperative agreements, scholarships, fellowships, and apprenticeships, and related administrative expenses”
    • National Institute of Standards and Technology: $150 million “to fund awards for research, development, and testbeds”
    • National Endowment for the Humanities: $135 million, including 60% for direct grants
    • National Endowment for the Arts: $135 million, including 60% for direct grants
    • Institute of Museum and Library Services: $200 million, with the vast majority distributed to state library administrative agencies
    • General Services Administration: $150 million to be used between now and 2024 for the “Federal Citizen Services Fund” which is available “for the purpose of disseminating Federal Government information to the public and for other related purposes”
  • In addition, the bill includes
    • $350 billion in financial assistance to state and local governments
    • $14 billion for vaccine distribution
    • $49 billion for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and genomic sequencing
    • $10 billion to support the President’s use of the Defense Production Act to purchase, manufacture, and distribute needed medical supplies and equipment

Additional Information:

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