American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

H.R. 1319, The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
An Urgently-Needed Package to Address The Coronavirus Health & Economic Crisis    

Passed House of Representatives February 27, 2021

Amended and Passed by the Senate on March 6, 2021

Senate Changes Passed by House on March 10, 2021

  • The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 implements President Biden’s urgently-needed American Rescue Plan, which he unveiled on January 20.  The legislation is designed to address the unprecedented coronavirus health and economic crisis.  
  • Some of the key changes the U.S. Senate made are:
    • The Senate-passed bill does not include the $15 an hour minimum wage provisions that were included in the bill passed by the House.
    • The Senate-passed bill changes the phase-out range for qualification to receive direct payments under the legislation.
    • The Senate-passed bill also amends the House provisions on unemployment benefits. The Senate-passed bill extends the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) through September 6, while keeping the weekly benefit at the current $300 per week.  It also exempts up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 from federal income taxes for households making less than $150,000.
  • The American Rescue Plan Act will crush the virus, return children safely to the classroom, get vaccines to the people, put dollars into families’ pockets and put people back to work.
  • Beat the virus and safely reopen schools – the bill will mount a national vaccination plan that includes setting up community vaccination sites nationwide.  It will also take complementary measures to combat the virus, including scaling up testing and tracing, addressing shortages of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies, investing in high-quality treatments and addressing health inequities. The plan will also make investments necessary to safely reopen schools.
  • Deliver immediate relief to working families bearing the brunt of the crisis – The Senate-passed bill finishes the job on the President’s promise to provide $2,000 per person in direct assistance to households across America with checks of $1,400 per person, following the $600 down payment enacted in December.  The bill will also provide direct housing assistance, nutrition assistance for 40 million Americans, expand access to safe and reliable child care and affordable health care, extend unemployment insurance so that 18 million American workers can pay their bills and support 27 million children with an expanded Child Tax Credit and more than 17 million low-wage childless workers through an improved Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Support communities struggling with the economic fallout – Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill will provide crucial support for the hardest-hit small businesses, especially those owned by entrepreneurs from racial and ethnic backgrounds that have experienced systemic discrimination, with EIDL grants, expanded PPP eligibility and more.  The bill also provides crucial resources to protect the jobs of first responders, frontline public health workers, and other essential workers.

Overview of Some of the Various Key Provisions in the Bill


Direct Payments to Working Families & Expanding Child Tax Credit

INCREASING THE DIRECT PAYMENTS TO WORKING FAMILIES

  • Providing Working Families an Additional Direct Payment of $1,400 Per Person – Bringing the Total Relief Payment to $2,000 Per Person:  In December, Congress enacted a Covid relief package that provided a direct payment of $600 per person.  The American Rescue Plan Act builds on that down payment, providing another $1,400 per person. 
  • Like the House Bill, Providing That Those Individuals Who Received the Full $600 Down Payment in December Will Receive the Full $1,400 Payment Now, Keeping President Biden’s Promise of a Total Relief Payment of $2,000: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill uses the same income threshold as the December legislation to determine which individuals receive the full $1,400 payment, before the phase-out begins.  Under the bill, single filers with incomes up to $75,000, head of household filers with incomes up to $112,500, and joint filers with incomes up to $150,000 will receive the full payment of $1,400. 
  • Amending the House Bill to Make the Phase-Out of the Direct Payment Faster: House Democrats worked to make the direct payments better targeted than the original proposal.  Under the House bill, House Democrats ensured that the direct payment was completely phased out for single filers making $100,000, head of household filers making $150,000, and joint filers making $200,000.   The Senate-passed bill amended the provision, ensuring that the payment was completely phased out for single filers making $80,000, head of household filers making $120,000, and joint filers making $160,000.

 

EXPANDING CHILD TAX CREDIT, THEREBY CUTTING CHILD POVERTY IN HALF

  • Making the Child Tax Credit Fully Refundable and Increasing Its Size for 2021:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill makes the child tax credit fully refundable for 2021 and increases the annual amount from the current $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6).  Currently, because the child tax credit is not fully refundable, there are 27 million American children who do not receive the full value of the current $2,000 tax credit because their parents do not earn enough money.
  • Directing the Secretary of the Treasury to Issue Advance Payments of the Child Tax Credit:  The bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury to issue advance payments of the child tax credit, based on the parents’ 2019 or 2020 tax returns.  Under the bill, parents could receive regular periodic monthly advance payment of the tax credit to ensure families have access to assistance throughout the year, rather than just at tax time.  The advance payments would begin on July 1, 2021. 
  • Phasing Out the Advance Payments for Upper-Income Households:  Those receiving the full advance payment of the child tax credit would be single filers earning up to $75,000, head of household filers earning up to $112,500, and joint filers earning up to $150,000.  Above these thresholds, the advance payments are phased down.
  • Experts Estimate This Policy Would Cut the Child Poverty Rate in Half:  A study by Columbia University found that such a proposal would cut the child poverty rate in the United States in half.

 

Aggressive Action to Speed Up COVID-19 Vaccinations and Contain the Virus

 

ESTABLISHING A NATIONAL COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM AND INCREASING VACCINATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

  • Providing Over $20 Billion to Establish A National COVID-19 Vaccination Program and Improve the Administration and Distribution of Vaccinations, Including:   
  • The House bill provided $7.5 billion for the CDC to prepare, promote, distribute, administer, monitor, and track COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Like the House bill, Senate-passed bill provides $7.5 billion for FEMA to establish vaccination sites across the country.
  • Like the House bill, Senate-passed bill provides $600 million to be directed to the Indian Health Service for vaccine-related activities.
  • Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $5.2 billion to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support advanced research, development, manufacturing, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, and ancillary medical products for COVID-19.
  • Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $1 billion for the CDC to undertake a vaccine awareness and engagement campaign.
  • Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes a provision that would require coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments in the Medicaid program at zero cost-sharing and increase the FMAP to 100 percent for vaccine administration through one year after the end of the PHE. It also would create a state option to provide the same coverage for the uninsured through the PHE.

 

SCALING UP COVID-19 TESTING, CONTACT TRACING, AND MITIGATION, IN ORDER TO STOP THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS

  • Like the House Bill, Senate-Passed Bill Providing $51 Billion to Expand Testing, Contact Tracing, and Mitigation and Related Activities, Including:    
    • Providing $47.8 billion for testing, contact tracing, and mitigation.  These activities include implementing a national strategy for testing, contact tracing, surveillance, and mitigation; and the manufacturing, procurement, distribution, and administration of tests, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies necessary for administration of the tests.  Additionally, these funds can be used to help mitigate COVID-19 in congregate settings by improving infection control and providing needed supplies.
    • Funding the Defense Production Act to close the gap in domestic manufacturing to fulfill U.S. public health needs.  Specifically, the bill provides $10 billion to boost domestic production of critical PPE, secure supply chains and increased capacity for vital vaccine production and to help onshore production of rapid COVID-19 tests.
    • Providing $1.5 billion to be directed to the Indian Health Service (HIS) for meeting IHS’s testing, tracing, and mitigation needs.
    • Providing $1.75 billion for genomic surveillance so that the U.S. can begin to adequately detect and respond to emerging and potentially more dangerous strains of SARS-COV-2 throughout the world.  This infrastructure will also be critical to responding to future viral outbreaks.
    • Providing $500 million to allow CDC to establish, expand, and maintain data surveillance and analytics, including to modernize the United States’ disease warning system to forecast and track hotspots for COVID-19.

Providing the Resources Needed to Allow Schools to Safely Re-Open

 

PROVIDING RESOURCES FOR OUR SCHOOLS

  • Providing Nearly $130 billion to Help K-12 Schools Re-Open Safely:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill makes nearly $130 billion available to states and school districts for immediate and long-term relief so they can work with public health experts to safely re-open schools and make up for lost time in the classroom. This includes:
    • Repairing ventilation systems, reducing class sizes and implementing social distancing guidelines, purchasing personal protective equipment, and hiring support staff to care for students’ health and well-being.
    • Ensures 20 percent of the funding that schools receive must be reserved to address and remediate learning loss among students.
    • The Senate-passed bill includes several new provisions related to K-12 funding:
      • Requires states to award K-12 funds to local school districts no later than 60 days after receipt and school districts to develop plans that ensure schools return to in-person learning;
      • Dedicates $800 million to help meet the needs of homeless young people;
      • Funds evidence-based summer enrichment at $1.3 billion and afterschool support initiatives also at $1.3 billion;
      • Allocates $3 billion for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and
      • Provides $2.75 billion for states to award grants to private K-12 schools.
  • Includes Funding to Support Colleges and Universities:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes nearly $40 billion for institutions of higher education to help make up for lost revenue due to the pandemic. Requires institutions to dedicate at least half of their funding for emergency financial aid grants to students to help prevent hunger, homelessness and other hardships facing students as a result of the pandemic. Like the House bill, the Senate bill included a provision to close the 90-10 loophole abused by predatory for-profit institutions, but now delays implementation until Oct. 1 and applies in FY 2023.
  • Student Loans: The Senate added a provision to the bill to make any future student loan forgiveness passed between December 2020 and January 2026 not taxable income.
  • Senate-Passed Bill Providing an Amended Version of House Provision On Expanding Internet Connectivity to Students and Communities:
    • The House bill had provided $7.6 billion to reimburse schools and libraries – central points for connectivity in many communities – to purchase equipment such as hotspots, internet service, and computers on behalf of students and patrons. This equipment is essential for homework when in-person classes resume, as well as for hybrid and remote learning. The Senate-passed bill instead provides $7.1 billion for reimbursing schools and libraries for this purpose.
    • Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill ensures schools and libraries can quickly access this critical funding by relying on the Federal Communications Commission and its E-rate program to administer the funds equitably.

Immediate Economic Relief for Americans Hit Hardest

EXTENDING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

  • Currently, Federal Unemployment Benefits Expire on March 14:  Specifically, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA) program (which  provides unemployment benefits to some self-employed and pandemic-affected individuals who do not qualify for regular state unemployment benefits), and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program (which provides additional weeks for beneficiaries who have exhausted their normal benefits) expire on March 14.
  • Senate Bill Providing An Amended Version of Provisions Extending the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC):  The House bill had extended the FPUC through August 29 and increased the weekly supplemental benefit from $300 per week to $400 per week.  The Senate-passed bill extends the federal supplemental benefit unemployment benefit through September 6, while keeping the benefit at the current $300 per week.  The Senate bill also exempts up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 from federal income taxes for households making less than $150,000.
  • Like the House Bill, Senate Bill Also Extending the Critical Pandemic UI Programs: The bill also extends both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program through September 6. 

EXPANDING HEALTH COVERAGE AND LOWERING AMERICANS’ HEALTH CARE COSTS

  • Expanding Subsidies in ACA Marketplaces:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill significantly expands the subsidies in the ACA Marketplaces to cover more middle class families and to be more generous for those already receiving them, for 2021 and 2022.  Specifically, it removes the current cap that makes any family with income above 400% of the poverty level ineligible for any subsidies.  Under the bill, no one will have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for a silver plan in the ACA marketplaces. It also provides that individuals below 150% of the poverty level pay no premiums at all compared to 4% of their income currently. The Urban Institute estimates that these provisions could lead to 4.5 million more Americans gaining coverage.
  • ACA Subsidies for Those on Unemployment:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides that any individual who receives unemployment at any point in 2021 is treated as if their income were 133% of the poverty level for the purposes of the ACA marketplace subsidy. As a result, they can purchase an ACA silver plan for zero premium.
  • New Incentives for Medicaid Expansion:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides a new incentive for the 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid to do so by temporarily increasing the base Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) by five percentage points for two years for any state that newly expands.  If all 12 remaining states expanded Medicaid, more than 2 million uninsured people would gain access to Medicaid.
  • COBRA Subsidies:  The Senate-passed bill provides an amended version of the House provision providing COBRA subsidies.  Whereas the House bill provided an 85% subsidy for individuals who lose their job and choose to use COBRA to continue their existing employer-sponsored health coverage, the Senate bill provides a 100% subsidy.  Currently, those who would like to choose COBRA are required to pay the full cost of their coverage, including the employer contribution, making the cost prohibitive and preventing many from doing so.

HOUSING ASSISTANCE

  • Provides $27.5 Billion for Emergency Rental Assistance, to Help Ensure Struggling Families Continue to Have a Safe Place to Live During This Pandemic:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides robust funding for rental assistance: $22.5 billion for emergency rental and utility assistance to states, territories, counties, and cities to help stabilize renters during the pandemic, and help rental property owners of all sizes continue to cover their costs; $5 billion for emergency vouchers to transition those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking to stable housing; $100 million for rural housing; $750 million for Native American housing; $100 million for housing counseling; and $20 million for fair housing.
  • Provides $10 Billion to Help Homeowners Struggling to Afford Their Housing as a Result of the Coronavirus Pandemic:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $10 billion for the Homeowner Assistance Fund that allocates funds to states, territories, and tribes to address the ongoing needs of homeowners struggling to afford their housing due directly or indirectly to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing direct assistance with mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and other housing related costs. The Senate bill increases the Homeowner Assistance Fund minimum state allocation to $50 million from $40 million in the House-passed bill.
  • Supports Solutions for Americans Experiencing Homelessness:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $4.75 billion for state and local governments – through the HOME Investment Partnership program – to finance supportive services, affordable housing and the acquisition of non-congregate shelter spaces for the hundreds of thousands of Americans experiencing homelessness during this pandemic.
  • Like House Bill, Senate-Passed Bill Provides $5 Billion to Those Most in Need to Help Pay Their Utility Bills, Including by:
    • Providing $4.5 billion to HHS for home energy assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
    • Providing $500 million in additional funds for HHS for the Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Emergency Assistance Program established by Congress at the end of 2020.  This brings the total amount of money available to assist families with their water and sewer bills to over $1.1 billion.

FOOD SECURITY

  • Makes Key Investments in Food Security: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill helps combat increasing food insecurity with key investments in SNAP, WIC, Pandemic EBT and other critical nutrition assistance, including:
    • Extends SNAP maximum benefits by 15 percent (through September 30, 2021);
    • Provides $1.1 billion in additional SNAP administrative funds to states to help meet the demand of increased caseloads and $25 million to improve the state SNAP online pilots; and
    • Allocates $800 million for WIC – supporting low-income women and infants – and temporarily boosts the value of WIC Cash Value Vouchers for vulnerable mothers and their children. The Senate-passed bill added WIC recipients with special dietary needs to the list of vulnerable individuals eligible for the increase in Cash Value Vouchers; and
    • Secures $37 million to cover food shortfalls in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program which seeks to improve the health and nutrition of low-income Americans over 60 years old through access to nutritious food.
  • Maintains and Expands the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) Program:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill invests more than $5 billion in P-EBT so that low-income families have access to school meals and food assistance during both the school year and summer months.
  • Expands Access to the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill temporarily expands the age of eligibility for CACFP at emergency homeless shelters to ensure more young adults can access needed nutrition support.

 

ENSURING ACCESSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE AND EARLY LEARNING FOR FAMILIES

  • Rescues the Child Care System from the Brink of Collapse: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $39 billion through the Child Care and Development Block Grant for child care providers as the country reopens and provides financial relief for families struggling to cover tuition.
  • Makes a Number of Improvements in the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, for 2021:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill makes several improvements to the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for 2021, including increasing the amount of child and dependent care expenses that are eligible for the credit to $8,000 for one qualifying individual and $16,000 for two or more qualifying individuals (such that the maximum credits would now be $4,000 and $8,000).
  • Increases the Annual Funding Level for the Child Care Entitlement to States.  The Senate-passed bill includes the House provision that increases the annual funding level for the Child Care Entitlement to States, from $2.917 billion per year to $3.550 billion per year. Additionally, the Senate-passed bill includes the House provision that waives the state match requirement for funds for fiscal years 2021 and 2022.
  • Includes Critical Funding for Head Start: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $1 billion for Head Start to equip facilities with the resources to safely stay open, buy PPE, technology and hire more staff and ensure families can continue to access quality early learning opportunities.

 

PROVIDING ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES (TANF)

  • Providing An Additional $1 Billion for TANF:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides an additional $1 billion for states to cover the additional cash assistance that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients needed as a result of the economic crisis.

CREATING PANDEMIC EMERGENCY FUND TO HELP LOW-INCOME FAMLIES WITH CHILDREN

  • Creating A $1 Billion Pandemic Emergency Fund:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill establishes a $1 billion Pandemic Emergency Fund, with the fund to be distributed to the states for providing emergency assistance to low-income families with children.

 

IMPROVING PENSION SECURITY

  • Stabilizing Multiemployer Pension Plans:  The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has undermined many pension plans.  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill stabilizes Multiemployer Pension Plans by creating a special financial assistance program under which cash payments would be made by the PBGC to financially troubled Multiemployer Pension Plans to ensure the plans can continue paying retirees’ benefits, thereby protecting retirees who worked for decades to earn their benefits. 
  • Stabilizing Single Employer Pension Plans:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill also provides single employer pension plans with certain pension funding relief.

EXTENDING AND IMPROVING VARIOUS OTHER TAX CREDITS

  • Making A Number of Improvements to the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, for 2021:   Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill makes several improvements to the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for 2021, including increasing the amount of child and dependent care expenses that are eligible for the credit to $8,000 for one qualifying individual and $16,000 for two or more qualifying individuals (such that the maximum credits would now be $4,000 and $8,000).
  • Strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit for Childless Adults, for 2021: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill raises the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults from roughly $530 to close to $1,500, raises the income limit for the credit from about $16,000 to about $21,000, and eliminates the age cap for older workers, for 2021. This step will benefit more than 17 million low-income workers like cashiers and delivery drivers.
  • Extending Employee Retention Credit:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill extends through December 31, 2021, the Employee Retention Credit, created by the CARES Act, which expired on December 31, 2020. The Senate bill also added certain improvements to the credit including better helping start-up businesses and expanding the credit to include employees who are working but whose businesses have suffered a significant revenue loss.
  • Extending Payroll Tax Credits for Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family and Medical Leave:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill extends, from March 31, 2021 to September 30, 2021, the payroll tax credit for employers created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for use to help employers defray the costs of the paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave required for employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic under that Act.

 

Support for Struggling Communities

 

SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS

  • Increases Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Funding: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes $7.25 billion in additional funding for PPP and expands eligibility of 501(c) nonprofits of all sizes and types, except for 501(c)4 lobbying organizations.
  • Creates a Restaurant Revitalization Fund:  The Senate-passed bill increased the funding allocation for a new program at the SBA to offer assistance to restaurants and bars hard hit by the pandemic from $25 billion to $28.66 billion. $5 billion is set aside specifically for smaller establishments with less than $500,000 in 2019 annual revenue. During the first 21 days, applications from restaurants owned and operated by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals will receive priority.
  • Supports Small Businesses By Providing $15 Billion for COVID-19 Emergency Grants Through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes an additional $15 billion for targeted EIDL Advances to help those who applied for relief in 2020 but did not receive the full $10,000 grant.
  • Establishes the Community Navigator Pilot Program: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill establishes this program to increase the awareness of and participation in COVID-19 relief programs for business owners currently lacking access, with priority for businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, women, and veterans
  • State Small Business Credit Initiative: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $10 billion to support up to $100 billion in small business financing through state, territorial, and tribal government programs. Of this amount, $2.5 billion is dedicated for support to business enterprises owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, including minority-owned businesses.

PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR FIRST RESPONDERS AND OTHER ESSENTIAL WORKERS

  • Providing $350 billion For New Coronavirus Relief Funds To Help Keep First Responders, Frontline Health Care Workers, and Other Essential Workers on the Job:  The bill provides $350 billion for new Coronavirus Relief Funds for states, localities, the U.S. Territories, and the Tribal Governments, including to help keep critical workers on the job.  These critical workers include frontline health care workers, police, firefighters, transit workers, teachers, EMS, and other vital workers who help keep us safe.    Since the pandemic began, 1.4 million of these types of workers have lost their jobs, due to the tight budgets caused by the high expenses and reduced revenues created by the pandemic. 
  • Additional Purposes for This Funding:  The Senate-passed bill adds as eligible categories for use of these funds investing in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, as well as premium pay up to $13 an hour in additional wages for workers performing an essential function in the pandemic.  The Senate-passed bill also specifies that the funds cannot be used for pensions or for tax cuts.
  • Requirement of Spending Funds by 2024:  The Senate-passed bill adds a requirement that, to be authorized under this section, funds must be spent by December 31, 2024.
  • Funding for Localities to Be Distributed in Two Tranches:  The Senate-passed bill adds a requirement that the funding for localities be distributed in two tranches.
  • The $350 billion In Funding in the Bill Is Broken Down as Follows:
    • States:  Providing $195.3 billion for the states.
    • Localities:  Providing $130.2 billion for local governments.  Under the bill, local governments of every size would receive dedicated allotments.
    • Tribal Governments:  Providing $20 billion to federally recognized tribal governments.
    • U.S. Territories:  Providing $4.5 billion for the U.S. Territories.
  • Senate-Passed Bill Adds A $10 Billion Capital Project Fund: The Senate-passed bill adds a $10 billion Capital Project Fund “to carry out critical capital projects directly enabling work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the public health emergency.”
  • Senate-Passed Bill Also Adds A $2 Billion Fund for Counties:  The Senate-passed bill also adds a $2 billion fund for counties, to be used for where “there is a negative revenue impact” from federal activities in a county.

 

PROVIDING CERTAINTY FOR FARM COMMUNITIES, GROWERS, AND PRODUCERS

  • Strengthens the Food Supply Chains: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $3.6 billion for USDA to:
    • Increase food donations with commodity purchases from farmers for distribution to food banks, nonprofits, or restaurants, to help feed families and support farmers’ bottom lines
    • Improve worker safety with resources for food and agriculture businesses to purchase personal protective equipment, test kits, and other measures that keep essential food workers safe
    • Invest in infrastructure that supports food processors, farmers markets, and producers to build resiliency in the food supply in the long term.
  • Provides Debt Relief for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $4 billion in USDA farm loan assistance to help farmers and ranchers of color who have faced discrimination for decades and to help them respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic. The Senate-passed bill gives the Secretary of Agriculture the flexibility to provide “up to 120 percent” of the outstanding debt rather than the fixed language included in the House bill.
  • Includes Funding to Support Farmers of Color: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes $1 billion in assistance and support for community-based organizations and 1890 Land Grant and other minority-serving institutions that work with farmers of color on land access, financial training, property issues, and training the next generation of farmers, ranchers and forest land owners and operators. The Senate-passed bill directs $5 million of this funding must be allocated for equity commissions. 
  • Relief for Rural America’s health needs: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $500 million in USDA rural initiatives to help hospitals expand vaccine distribution, purchase needed medical supplies, bolsters telehealth capacity and helps hospitals facing lost revenue and high costs.

 

SUPPORTING TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS’ RESPONSE TO COVID-19

  • Guarantees Funding to Assist Tribal Governments:  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes $20 billion in direct relief to federally recognized tribal governments to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, reduce health inequities, and improve economic opportunities.
  • Helps the Indian Health Service Meet Pandemic Health Needs and Address Disparities: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes more than $6 billion for the Indian Health Service, with a focus on equitable and urgent access to vaccines, testing, tracing, and mental health resources.
  • Invests in Native American Education and Language Preservation: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes $850 million for Bureau of Indian Education-operated elementary and secondary schools as well as Tribal Colleges and Universities. The Senate bill increases the allocation for emergency grants to support Native American language preservation from $10 million in the House bill to $20 million. This funding ensures elders can continue preserving the vitality of their sacred and diminishing languages during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Senate-Passed Bill Makes Additional Investments in Education: The Senate bill appropriates an additional $190 million from unused outlays from the Indian Health Service to the Department of Education for grants to educational organizations devoted to Tribes, Native Hawaiians and Alaska Natives. 
  • Provides $900 Million for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA):  Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $900 million for essential tribal government services, tribal housing, child welfare assistance, public safety, potable water, and more.
  • Funds Housing Assistance and Supportive Services for Native Americans: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes $750 million to support the Indian Housing Block Grant and Indian Community Development Block Grant.
  • Provides Business Supports: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides emergency grants, lending, and investments to eligible tribally-owned businesses, with an additional $500 million tribal set-aside within the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). 

IMPROVING WORKER SAFETY & WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COVERAGE

  • Strengthens Workplace Protections for Essential Workers: The Senate-passed bill provides a slight increase to Department of Labor funding from $150 million in the House-passed bill to $200 million, helping to continue UI oversight and OSHA enforcement.
  • Ensures Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Frontline Federal Workers: Establishes a presumption that COVID-19 is work-related and authorizes eligibility for medical benefits, lost wages and survivor benefits for federal and postal workers.


SUPPORTING VETERANS AND SERVICEMEMBERS

  • Like the House Bill, the Senate-Passed Bill Makes Key Investments in Our Veterans Impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic:
    • Ensures veterans will not have any copays or cost-sharing for preventative treatment or services related to COVID-19 going back to April 2020 and authorizes the VA to reimburse those veterans who already submitted payments for their care during this period.
    • Includes more than $14.5 billion for VA to provide health care services and other related supports – including suicide prevention, Women’s health services, telehealth expansion, medical facility improvements – to eligible veterans and allows up to $4 billion in spending for the Veterans Community Care Program.
    • Provides nearly $400 million for up to 12 months of retraining assistance for veterans who are unemployed as a result of the pandemic and do not have access to other veteran education benefits. This funding covers the cost of the rapid retraining program as well as a housing allowance for enrolled veterans.
    • Includes $272 million for the VA to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the benefits claims and appeals backlog.
    • Provides emergency paid sick leave for VA’s frontline and essential health workers.

FEMA/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION

  • FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes $50 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund for reimbursements to state, local, Tribal and territorial governments dealing with ongoing response and recovery activities from the coronavirus pandemic. This funding could be used for vaccination efforts, National Guard deployments, providing PPE to frontline workers, and other FEMA resources and activities necessary to assist communities with the pandemic. The bill also includes limited funeral assistance for families who lost a loved one due to COVID, at 100% federal cost share.
  • Additional FEMA Funding: The Senate-passed bill included new funding with $400 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, $300 million for FEMA Firefighter grants, $100 million for FEMA Emergency Managers Performance Grants, and $110 million of humanitarian relief providing to support communities and organizations assisting with the humane, safe, and orderly reception of migrant families and individuals during COVID run through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.
  • Economic Development Administration: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides $3 billion for the Economic Development Administration to provide support for communities and industries that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

 

SUPPORTING TRANSIT/AIRLINE INDUSTRY & WORKERS 

  • Invests in Our Nation’s Transit Systems Hard Hit by the Coronavirus Pandemic: Transit ridership plummeted 79 percent in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes $30 billion for transit agencies across the country to prevent, prepare and respond to the continued threat of the pandemic.  
  • Like the House Bill, the Senate-Passed Bill Keeps Amtrak Fully Operational: The House-passed bill included $1.5 billion to keep Amtrak fully operational through the end of FY 2021, ending worker furloughs and restoring full service. The Senate-passed bill increased the total amount of funding dedicated to Amtrak by an additional $200 million.
  • Provides Emergency Assistance to Airports and Helps Protect Aviation Industry Jobs: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill includes:
    • $8 billion to support airports across the country as well as airport concessions and their employees.
    • $15 billion to extend the Payroll Support Program through September 30, 2021 stopping furloughs and layoffs for workers employed by passenger airlines and contractors servicing air carriers at airports.
    • $3 billion in temporary payroll support for U.S. aerospace manufacturing companies to help cover the wages, salaries and benefits of manufacturing employees most at risk of being furloughed or laid off as a result of the pandemic.  

 

Other Provisions

 

OTHER CRITICAL HEALTH-RELATED PROVISIONS

  • Providing Significant Funding to Address Health Disparities:  The Senate-passed bill includes very similar provisions on addressing health disparities and protecting vulnerable populations as the House bill.  The bill specifically:        
    • Provides $7.6 billion in funding to support COVID-19 response at Community Health Centers.
    • Provides an additional $3.5 billion for the Indian Health Service.
    • Provides $1.4 billion for Older Americans Act funding to support community-based and in-house services for older adults struggling during the pandemic.
    • Provides $800 million to the National Health Service Corps to support primary care health and diversify our nation’s clinician workforce.
    • Provides $240 million to support the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, which helps support nurses working in critical shortage and underserved areas.
    • Provides $330 million for Teaching Health Centers that train the medical professionals who serve our most vulnerable populations.
    • Provides $150 million for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program to improve the development, health and well-being of at-risk families with young children.
    • Includes a provision allowing states, for five years, to extend Medicaid eligibility to women for 12 months postpartum.  (The House bill would’ve allowed this temporary policy for seven years.)
  • Providing $4 Billion for Expanding Behavioral and Mental Health Services:  The Senate-passed bill includes very similar provisions on expanding behavioral and mental health services as the House bill.  The bill specifically:       
    • Provides $1.5 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant program.
    • Provides $1.5 billion for the Community Mental Health block grant program.
    • Provides $420 million for certified community behavioral health clinics.
    • Provides $280 million for programs that support mental and behavioral health and prevent burnout among health care providers and public safety officers.
    • Provides $120 million for Indian Health Service mental and behavioral health prevention and treatment programs.
    • Provides $100 million for Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) mental health services.
    • Provides $80 million specifically for the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program at HRSA.
  • Mobilizing A Public Health Jobs Program to Support the COVID-19 Response: Like Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill provides additional funding to expand the public health workforce, including:      
    • Providing $7.6 billion in funding to public health departments to hire 100,000 additional full-time employees into the public health workforce. 
    • Providing $240 million for meeting the public health workforce needs of the Indian Health Service.
    • Providing $100 million to support the Medical Reserve Corps, which consists of a network of volunteer medical and public health professionals that support emergency response efforts and community health activities.
  • Helping Skilled Nursing Facilities Better Cope with COVID-19: Like Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill takes steps to help skilled nursing facilities better cope with the challenges posed by COVID-19, including:       
    • Providing $500 million to deploy strike teams to help nursing home facilities manage outbreaks of COVID-19 when they occur.
    • Providing $200 million to the Secretary of HHS for the purpose of carrying out infection control support related to COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities through quality improvement organizations.
  • Addressing the Global COVID-19 Pandemic, With Assistance: Like the House bill, the Senate-passed bill addresses the global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, including by:       
    • Providing $8.7 billion for Global Health Funding for both bilateral and multilateral efforts to directly combat the virus and slow the threat of mutations by addressing immediate needs such as vaccine development, delivery, and distribution, and supporting health systems.
    • Providing $580 million for the United Nations Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19.
    • Providing $800 million for the Food for Peace program.
    • Providing $750 million for CDC global health programs.

 

PROMOTING COVID-19 RELATED RESEARCH

  • Like the House Bill, Senate-Passed Bill Provides A Total of $750 Million for COVID-Related Research, Including:  
    • Providing $150 million for COVID-19 related research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
    • Providing $600 million for COVID-19 related research at the National Science Foundation.