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What the $900 Billion COVID-19 Relief Bill Means for Governments

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Stimulus checks have gone to households, the federal government is doubling down on unemployment benefits, and more aid is being designated for small businesses, schools, and childcare as well as vaccine distribution. 

The latest $908 billion relief proposal also repurposes $429 billion in unused funding provided by the CARES Act for emergency lending programs that are run by the Federal Reserve. 

While the bill ramps up unemployment aid and relief for small businesses, it does NOT provide any new funding for state and local governments, despite significant revenue shortfalls many governments are experiencing. The good news is the federal government has offered an extension for state, local, tribal, and US territory governments to expend Coronavirus Relief Funds, moving the deadline from this past December 30, 2020 to December 31, 2021. 

Here’s a quick overview of what else the bill provides: 

Stimulus Checks

  • The legislation includes $600 stimulus checks per person, including adults and children. For example, a family of four would receive $2,400 depending on certain income thresholds. 
  • The payment decreases for those who earned more than $75,000 in the 2019 tax year. 

Rental Assistance

  • The bill provides a moratorium on evictions until January 31st, which was set to expire at the end of 2020. 
  • The bill includes $25 billion in emergency assistance to renters.

Jobless Benefits

  • Congress will extend unemployment benefits of up to $300 per week. 
  • The bill also extends Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, particularly to help those who work in part-time and gig jobs who could not qualify for state unemployment insurance benefits. This assistance will last for 11 weeks. 

Aid for Businesses

  • The bill includes more than $284 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans as well as expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofit organizations and news outlets. 
  • There is also language included to make sure that churches and faith-based organizations are eligible for PPP loans.

Vaccine Distribution

  • At least $20 billion will be provided for the purchase of coronavirus vaccines.
  • The bill also provides $8 billion for vaccine distribution as well as $20 billion to help states administer more coronavirus testing. 

School Funding

  • Colleges and schools will receive $82 billion, including $22.7 billion set aside for colleges and universities. Additionally, $54.3 billion has been marked for elementary and secondary education.
  • The bill also includes $10 billion for childcare assistance.

Transportation

  • $45 billion has been specified for transportation, including $16 billion for airline employee and contractor payroll support.
  • The bill also includes $14 billion for transit; $10 billion for highways; $2 billion for intercity buses; $2 billion for airports; and $1 billion for Amtrak.

Relief for Indian Country

In addition to the one-year CARES Act deadline extension as well as aid for vaccines, testing, and community health, the bill provides more support to Native American communities in several ways. One of the most notable is the $1 billion set aside for broadband access to support Native American communities, including Tribal Colleges and Universities and Native Hawaiian communities. 

When it comes to tribal nations, the bill also provides $125 million in funding for mental health assistance, as well as telehealth for urban Indian health organizations; $800 million in housing assistance for Tribally Designated Housing Entities, and over $552 million for tribal colleges, universities, and the Bureau of Indian Education.

Need more information or help navigating the latest COVID-19 funding and grants? Reach out to us at info@ecivis.com.