Congress Agrees on Covid Relief Bill, Omnibus Spending
Congressional leaders have hashed out a massive, year-end catchall bill that combines $900 billion in COVID-19 aid with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill and reams of other unfinished legislation on taxes, energy, education and health care. The huge, still-unreleased bill is slated for votes on Monday — with lawmakers having only a few hours to read it before casting their votes.
Highlights of the measure with overall funding amounts and specific amounts for some but not necessarily all initiatives:
DIRECT ECONOMIC RELIEF ($286 billion)
Unemployment insurance ($120 billion). Revives supplemental federal pandemic unemployment benefits but at $300 per week — through March 14 — instead of the $600 per week benefit that expired in July. Extends special pandemic benefits for “gig” workers and extends the maximum period for state-paid jobless benefits to 50 weeks.
Direct payments ($166 billion). Provides $600 direct payments to individuals making UP TO?? $75,000 per year and couples making $150,000 per year, with $600 additional payments per dependent child.
SMALL BUSINESS ($325 billion)
Paycheck Protection Program ($284 billion). Revives the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to qualified businesses. Especially hard-hit businesses that received PPP grants would be eligible for a second round. Ensures that PPP subsidies are not taxed.
VACCINE, TESTING, HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS ($69 billion)
Delivers more than $30 billion for procurement of vaccines and treatments, distribution funds for states, and a strategic stockpile. Adds $22 billion for testing, tracing and mitigation, $9 billion for health care providers, and $4.5 billion for mental health.
SCHOOLS ($82 billion)
Delivers $54 billion to public K-12 schools affected by the pandemic and $23 billion for colleges and universities; $4 billion would be awarded to a Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund; nearly $1 billion for Native American schools.
RENTAL ASSISTANCE ($25 billion)
Provides money for a first-ever federal rental assistance program; funds to be distributed by state and local governments to help people who have fallen behind on their rent and may be facing eviction.
FOOD/FARM AID ($26 billion)
Increases food stamp benefits by 15% and provides funding to food banks, Meals on Wheels and other food aid. Provides an equal amount ($13 billion) in aid to farmers and ranchers.
CHILD CARE ($10 billion)
Provides $10 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant to help families with child care costs and help providers cover increased operating costs.
POSTAL SERVICE ($10 billion)
Forgives a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service provided in earlier relief legislation.