March 2021 Public Policy Roundup

March 2021 Public Policy Roundup

Publication date: 
March, 2021

By Hillary Evans, vice president of professional learning & public policy, Philanthropy Southwest

Public Policy Roundup 3.16.21 (March Issue)

$1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Legislation Signed into Law

On March 11, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319). The Senate passed the Democrats' nearly $2 trillion reconciliation bill on a party-line vote of 50-49 on March 6. The House passed the final version of the bill on March 10 by a vote of 220-211. This relief package provides additional relief to address the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, public health, State and local governments, individuals, and businesses.  The package is described as one the most anti-poverty bills in modern era, including $1,400 in direct stimulus payments for individuals making up to $75,000 and couples making $150,000. It will also extend weekly $300 weekly unemployment insurance through September 6th.  Other highlights of the legislation include:

  • Increased Child Tax Credits of $3,600 for children up to age 5 and up to $3,000 for ages 6-17
  • $128.6 billion to help K-12 schools reopen
  • $19 billion in emergency rental assistance
  • $25 billion to help restaurants
  • $46 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing
  • $5.2 billion to support the research and development of vaccines
  • $7.25 billion got Paycheck Protection Program loans

For a more detailed analysis of what is in this spending package, please click here. In looking ahead to future spending bills, infrastructure is likely to be the next big push along with minimum wage, voting rights and immigration reform.


Bill to Incentivize Charitable Giving Reintroduced

A bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders recently introduced the Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act (S. 618, H.R. 1704). The bill would specifically make available to taxpayers who do not itemize on their tax returns—for tax years 2021 and 2022—a below-the-line deduction for charitable giving on federal income taxes valued at up to one-third of the standard deduction (around $4,000 for an individual filer and $8,000 for married joint filers). This bipartisan, bicameral legislation was introduced by U.S. Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tim Scott (R-SC), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) along with Representatives Chris Pappas (NH-01) and Jackie Walorski (IN-02).

Philanthropy Southwest recently hosted a briefing on this legislation during Foundations on the Hill with special guest Julia Prus, Senator Lankford’s tax staffer.  Senator Lankford has been a key champion in expanding the universal charitable deduction, incentivizing charitable giving to support the nonprofit sector, regardless of income.

Relatedly, Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) reintroduced the Charitable Giving Tax Deduction Act (H.R. 1081) last month. This bill would create an uncapped and permanent universal charitable deduction for nonitemizers.

Find More By:

Resource type 
Join Our Network
We are a vibrant network of funders committed to a thriving Southwestern U.S. through the power of philanthropy.
Get Our Newsletter