December 21, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) helped the House pass a long-awaited COVID-19 bill. The $910 billion emergency bill will provide immediate, short-term support to struggling families and businesses before Congress convenes in the new year to hammer out additional critically needed relief.
“This bipartisan, bicameral deal offers some critical short-term relief for the American people,” said Rep. Peters. “San Diegans have been in desperate need of relief since March. Had Congress committed to smart measures like automatic stabilizers, which I’ve argued for from the outset, we could have saved many from months of overwhelming financial stress. But today’s action will help a lot of people in need of aid now. In January, we must be ready to do more.”
Rep. Peters was one of the 50 members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that called on leaders throughout the year to put country over party. The coalition proposed a number of COVID-19 relief proposals to help broker compromise, and the latest version became the framework for the final bill.
Highlights of the relief legislation include:
Stimulus checks: $600 direct payments to individuals, including adults and children. As in the CARES Act, the payment size decreases for individuals who earned more than $75,000 in the 2019 tax year, stopping at those who earned more than $99,000.
- Supplementary $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits lengthened by 11 weeks, as well as the extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for contract and gig workers.
- New weekly $100 federal benefit for mixed earners who do not qualify for PUA, but have at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income.
- Improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit that ensures families who face unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic can receive a robust tax credit based on their 2019 income. The agreement will help keep workers in their jobs during coronavirus closures or reduced revenue. It also provides a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave, based on the Families First framework.
Support for small businesses:
- More than $284 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, expanding eligibility for support and modifying the program to serve the smallest businesses, nonprofits and independent restaurants. This is especially important given the key role restaurants play in San Diego’s tourism economy. The pandemic and its subsequent restrictions forced many restaurants to close their doors for good. It also sets money aside for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs).
- $15 billion for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions.
- $20 billion in targeted grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program.
Housing and rental assistance:
- $25 billion in emergency rental assistance, prioritizing past-due rent payments for people who have demonstrable need. California is estimated to receive $2.6 billion to help alleviate stress on rent payers.
- Eviction moratorium extended until January 31, 2021.
Investments to tackle the public health crisis:
- $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, $8 billion for vaccine distribution and $20 billion to assist states with COVID-19 testing. Vaccines will be available to Americans, free of charge, for those who need them.
- Over a hundred billion dollars in new health care funding:
- $55 million to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical countermeasures, devices, therapies and vaccines to combat COVID.
- $73 billion to Health and Human Services (HHS) for public health research and deployment, manufacturing procurement and distribution.
- $8.75 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- $23 billion to Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Research (ASPR), including $19.7 for Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and $3.25 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile.
- $25 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency fund.
- $1.25 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research the clinical and long-term effects of the disease.
- $4.25 billion for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to provide increased mental health and substance abuse services.
Boosts to School Safety: $82 billion to enhance classroom safety in colleges and schools:
- $4 billion for Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund.
- $54.3 billion for Elementary and Secondary (K-12) Emergency Relief Fund.
- $22.7 billion for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund and includes the largest expansion of Pell Grant recipients in over a decade.
- $14 billion for transit emergency relief.
- $10 billion for child care through the Child Care Development Block Grant program, with $250 million for Head Start.
- $13 billion in SNAP benefits and nutrition assistance.
- $7 billion to boost broadband access by building a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help students, families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during this pandemic.
The relief bill is tied to a historic $1.4 trillion package that authorizes federal spending on projects and programs for Fiscal Year 2021.
This bill is the fourth COVID-19 bill approved by the House and Senate. In April, Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to replenish federal assistance programs after they ran out of money. In addition to the CARES Act, passed in March, the House wrote and passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which took steps to strengthen Americans’ health care access and boosted financial security through paid sick leave and enhanced unemployment insurance. The House passed an initial $8.3 billion emergency supplemental bill to help states, communities and federal agencies combat the virus’s spread in early March.
After passing the House and the Senate, the bill will go to the president to be signed into law.