The U.S. Senate rejected a scaled-down “Phase 4” relief bill introduced by Senate Republicans that would have provided $500 billion in COVID-relief, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) reported.
The legislation received 52 votes from Senate Republicans but fell short of the 60-vote threshold needed to end debate and advance the bill to a final vote. Senate Democrats unanimously opposed the legislation and argued for a larger and more comprehensive relief package.
The legislation included a number of NLBMDA-backed priorities such as employer liability protections, additional small business loan funding, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility for 501(c)6 organizations, and reduced supplemental unemployment insurance. The bill was approximately half the cost of the Senate Republicans’ original $1 trillion relief proposal released in July.
Summary of Senate Proposal:
- Authorizes $300 per week in supplemental unemployment insurance through December 27, down from $600 per week in the CARES Act;
- Includes liability protections for employers that follow applicable public health guidelines;
- Provides $257 billion in small business relief, including additional PPP funding; and
- Makes 501(c)6 organizations eligible for PPP.
Negotiations are expected to continue between Congressional leaders and the White House.
New COVID-19 guidance from the CDC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance for critical infrastructure workers who may have been exposed to COVID-19. To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.
A potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes the period of time of 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.
Critical Infrastructure workers who have had an exposure but remain asymptomatic should adhere to the following practices prior to and during their work shift:
- Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
- Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a fever or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
- Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
- Social Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
- Disinfect and Clean work spaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.
The NLBMDA has compiled federal guidance and resources in the NLBMDA COVID-19 Action Resource Center.