COVID Relief Bill SummaryDecember 28, 2020 | By Erik Lincoln
COVID Relief Bill Summary
The latest COVID relief bill is called the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (H.R. 133, the “Act”). It is a $2.3 trillion spending bill that combines $900 billion in stimulus relief related to COVID-19 with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill for the 2021 federal fiscal year (combining 12 separate annual appropriations bills). The bill is one of the largest spending measures ever enacted, surpassing the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, enacted in March 2020. The legislation is the first bill to address the pandemic since April 2020. According to the Senate Historical Office, at 5,593 pages, the legislation is the longest bill ever passed by Congress.
The Act was passed by both houses of Congress on December 21, 2020, with large bipartisan majorities in support. After initially criticizing the bill, President Donald Trump signed it into law on December 27.
The pandemic relief portion of the Act, totaling about $900 billion, includes the following:
- $325 billion for small businesses.
- $284 billion in forgivable loans via the Paycheck Protection Program
- $20 billion for businesses in low-income communities
- $15 billion for economically endangered live venues, movie theaters and museums
- $166 billion for a $600 stimulus check, for most Americans with an adjusted gross income lower than $75,000
- $120 billion for an extension of increased federal unemployment benefits ($300 a week until March 14, 2021)
- $82 billion for schools and universities, including $54 billion to public K-12 schools, $23 billion for higher education; $4 billion to a Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund; and slightly under $1 billion for Native American schools
- $69 billion for vaccines, testing, and health providers
- Vaccine and treatment procurement and distribution, as well as a strategic stockpile, received over $30 billion.
- Testing, contact tracing, and mitigation received $22 billion.
- Health care providers received $9 billion.
- Mental health received $4.5 billion.
- $25 billion for a federal aid to state and local governments for rental assistance programs (also covering rent arrears, utilities, and home energy costs)
- $13 billion to increase the monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamp) benefit by 15% through June 30, 2021.
- $13 billion round of direct payments to the farming and ranching industry, including
- About $5 billion for payments of $20 an acre for row crop producers, which (according to an American Farm Bureau Federation analysis) would go to producers of corn ($1.8 billion), soybeans ($1.7 billion), wheat ($890 million), and cotton ($240 million).
- Up to $1 billion for livestock and poultry farmers, plus certain “plus-up” payments for cattle producers
- $470 million for dairy producers, plus additional $400 million for the USDA to purchase milk for processing into dairy products for donation to food banks
- $60 million for small meat and poultry processors
- $10 billion for child care (specifically, the Child Care Development Block Grant program)
- $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service (in the form of forgiveness of a previous federal loan)
A few important sections of the Act did not allocate any spending, but provide a significant benefit for many, such as the following:
- The Act allows businesses to deduct expenses related to any PPP loan forgiven, EIDL advances, and with respect to certain other subsidies and grants. For the specifics of this significant tax benefit see §278 of the Act, which can be found here.
- The legislation also extends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-imposed eviction moratorium (halting evictions for failure to pay rent for tenants with annual incomes of less than $99,000) to January 31, 2021; the moratorium had initially been set to expire at the end of 2020.
The appropriations portion of the Act comprise Divisions A through L of the Act, and totals about $1.4 trillion in spending. For details of the appropriations spending, see the Act.