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Lankford, King, Colleagues Urge Leadership to Consider Nonprofits in Next Relief Proposal

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Angus King (I-ME) today sent a bipartisan letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to advocate that they do not overlook nonprofits, charities, and houses of worship in the fourth-phase relief proposal for the coronavirus pandemic. The letter asks the Leaders to consider expanding access to relief and support, increase unemployment insurance reimbursement for nonprofit employees, and strengthen charitable giving incentives to help ease the burdens facing nonprofit employers as well as other types of small businesses.

During the previous Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act discussion, Lankford offered an amendment, which would have increased the bill’s $300 limit on the charitable giving deduction to one-third of the standard deduction ($4,000 for an individual filer and $8,000 for married joint filers) for the 2020 tax year—a move supported by more than 1,000 nonprofits across the nation. While the CARES Act also provided some nonprofits access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), there are additional steps the Senate can take to ensure these critical entities are able to continue to serve where government cannot. 

“When people across the country are hurting, nonprofits step up to meet their needs—no matter the circumstances or the challenges,” said Lankford. “Right now, every community across the country has food banks, shelters, and houses of worship that are busier than ever providing essential support and services to so many people in every state who need their help. They’re helping at a time when their own bottom line and well-being is suffering. I’m grateful to partner with Senator King to ensure we can help those who provide direct relief and support to our friends and neighbors across Oklahoma, Maine, and the entire country. I challenge my colleagues to join us in this effort and provide help to those whose mission is to help others.”

“In the face of extreme uncertainty, nonprofit organizations across Maine are stepping up to address the challenges posed by both the coronavirus pandemic and the economic harm it’s bringing,” said King. “Whether it’s helping get food to families in need, or addressing the crisis’s impact on mental health, or making sure our most vulnerable citizens are cared for, Maine’s nonprofits are answering the call to serve their communities—but even as their services are needed more than ever, the economic climate is drastically reducing critically-needed donations. Losing these groups would be a gut punch to our families, our communities, and our economy—that’s why Congress must support nonprofits in the next coronavirus relief package.”

Lankford and King are joined in the letter by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Martha McSally (R-AZ), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Boozman (R-AR), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tim Scott (R-SC), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Richard Burr (R-NC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Jon Tester (D-MT).

The following nonprofits and charities have offered their support for the Senators’ letter: Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, American Alliance of Museums, American Council on Education, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Red Cross, Americans for the Arts, Apartment Life, Inc., Arthritis Foundation, Association of Art Museum Directors, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Catholic Charities USA, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Child Welfare League of America, Community Action Partnership, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, Covenant House International, Ducks Unlimited, Extended Day Child Care Center, Inc., Faith & Giving Coalition, Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc., Goodwill Industries International, Inc., Habitat for Humanity International, Independent Sector, Jewish Federations of North America, Land Trust Alliance, Leadership 18, League of American Orchestras, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Looking Glass Community Services, Lutheran Services in America, Mental Health America, National Alliance for Caregiving, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, National Council of Nonprofits, National Health Council, National Human Services Assembly, NatureBridge, San Diego Zoo Global, Solve ME/CFS Initiative, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Squash and Education Alliance, The Arc of the United States, The Nonprofit Trust, The Trevor Project, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, United Cerebral Palsy- National, United Philanthropy Forum, United Way Worldwide, Volunteers of America, Welcoming America, World Wildlife Fund, YMCA of the USA, Youth Advocate Program, YWCA USA, Boys and Girls Club of America, Bethany Christian Services, Military-Veterans Advocacy, Inc, and Agudath Israel of America.

The full text of the letter can be found HERE or below.

Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:

Charitable nonprofits are significant employers ready to serve. The 12 million people working for America’s charities are the backbone of our communities: the food banks, shelters, domestic violence services, houses of worship, early care and education centers, after-school facilities, and more that are being called on to feed, house and care for people whose lives have been disrupted by sickness, closures, and job loss. Cities and states are relying on nonprofits to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic. We will continue to rely on the experience, expertise and ingenuity of the sector during future recovery efforts. As we work to build on the CARES Act in the next relief package, we cannot overlook the needs of these community-based institutions and must ensure that charitable nonprofits are fully supported in their service on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Specifically, we urge you to include the following clarifications and provisions in the next relief package:

  1. Expand Nonprofit Access to Relief and Support: Expand the eligibility for nonprofits to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program by modifying the current 500-employee cap or by other means. Adjust Economic Stabilization Fund or other mechanisms to implement programs to support nonprofit employers with between 500 and 10,000 employees. Provide clear guidance and maximum flexibility to private lenders to prioritize processing the applications of charitable nonprofits.
  2. Increase Unemployment Insurance Reimbursement: Treat self-funded nonprofits fairly by increasing the federal unemployment insurance reimbursement for self-funded nonprofits to 100% of costs. As currently written Section 2103 of the CARES Act will subject nonprofits throughout the country to crippling payments to their state unemployment systems later this year, while other employers will likely experience little or no additional costs resulting from mass COVID-19-related layoffs. The impacts will be real. States will be greatly challenged to distinguish among employers in an already overburdened system due to the unprecedented surge in new applicants. Many nonprofits will be hit with a bill for reimbursement to states at a time when they will be in the highest demand for providing services. This could actually inhibit nonprofits’ ability to perform.
  3. Strengthen Charitable Giving Incentives: Encourage donations to the work of charitable organizations in their communities by enabling taxpayers making donations on and after March 13 (date of national emergency declaration) and before July 16 to claim the deductions on their 2019 tax filings. This retroactive application should apply to itemized and above-the-line deductions during this critical period to encourage an influx of donations when these nonprofits need them most. Also, enhance the Above-the-Line Deduction in the CARES Act by increasing the $300/person cap and extending the effective date of the incentive. 

On behalf of the nonprofit charities in each of our districts providing critical services to our constituents, we appreciate your attention to this request and believe that the inclusion of these provisions will directly help charitable nonprofits respond to the fallout from this pandemic and will continue to serve our communities in the aftermath. We appreciate your consideration and attention to this request.