Congress is close to rolling out a $900B COVID-19 relief plan, and music venue owners are urging U.S. lawmakers to pass the Save Our Stages Act. Yahoo Finance’s Jesica Smith shares the details.
JULIE HYMAN: Well, let's start with the latest on stimulus talks here. It looks like we are still inching closer to some kind of a deal. Our Jessica Smith is joining us with the latest. Jess?
JESSICA SMITH: Julie, congressional leaders are still trying to figure this out. They spoke late last night. And they're going to continue to talk through the day to try and finalize that roughly $900 billion deal that we've heard about over the past couple of days. And as time continues to pass with government funding running out tomorrow night, it's looking more and more like Congress may have to work through the weekend to get this done. There is talk of a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government open for a few days, giving negotiators more time to come up with a deal.
Things are very fluid right now. But as it stands, it looks like negotiators have agreed, or at least are focused right now, on $600 to $700 stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits. It's looking like $300 extra a week, money for vaccines, money for small businesses, and money for schools. Of course, no state and local aid and no liability protections-- those two sticking points that we've talked about so much over the past few months.
According to "Politico", there is some controversy right now about money for governors to use for health care concerns. And then I've also heard that there is some debate over money for FEMA to use on COVID-related emergencies. So again, we'll have to see how this plays out over the next couple of hours. But lawmakers are really running out of time because we haven't even seen a legislative text yet. So there's nothing to vote on. And they'd have to do this before the end of the day tomorrow.
So again, maybe another short-term spending deal to give them a couple of extra days.
JULIE HYMAN: Yeah, it sounds like they're going to need it at this point. We've talk about aid for a lot of different industries, Jess. Let's talk about the music industry. Full disclosure, this affects my household directly.
There's something called the Save our Stage's Act that could be part of stimulus to help the live music industry. What's the status of that?
JESSICA SMITH: Well, music venues have clearly been crushed throughout the pandemic. They were among the first to shut down. They have no idea when they're going to be able to open again. So music venues are hoping to have their own set of relief in the next coronavirus package. And there is a bipartisan bill. As you mentioned, the Save our Stages Act. And while that's not necessarily going to pass on its own, they're hopeful that there could be some language from the bill in this final coronavirus relief package.
What that bill would do is create a $10 billion grant program for venues, producers, promoters, and the like. It would cover the cost of mortgages, rents, utilities for those businesses. If they had fewer than 500 employees, it cannot be a public company. They have to have their grants capped at 45% of the revenue from 2019 or $12 million, whichever is less. And then at the end of a certain amount of time, they'd have to give back any unused money.
I did talk to the team at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. And then the group that owns several venues in DC. And they said they desperately need this help. Let's watch.
- With no revenue and enormous overhead both in every single independent venue in DC and across the nation, we are in a crisis. There's no other way to put it. So many hundreds of venues have gone under already.
- We will have lost $50 million this year just on the venues side. That doesn't take into account all of the jobs that have been lost for caterers, and drivers, and stagehands, and stage and light technicians, and everybody else who's involved in this part of the industry.
JESSICA SMITH: Now, Red Rocks is owned by the city of Denver. So they told me that that venue will be there at the end of this. Though, as you heard, they have seen all of their employees furloughed and other job losses there. But many small venues are not in that same boat. So they are at risk of going under. We did hear from Senator Ben Cardin. He is the top Democrat in the Small Business Committee. And he said negotiators are looking at including this in the bill. They're interested in doing it. But no final update on whether this will be in the package or not. So we'll have to keep you updated on this one, Julie.
JULIE HYMAN: Jess, that is a venue I've always wanted to visit. Hopefully, I'll get the chance when all of this is said and done. Jessica Smith, thank you so much. Appreciate it.