A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers today unveiled a $908 billion stimulus package that aims to break a longstanding logjam on COVID-19 relief. The package is split into two bills, one of which contains needed relief for state and local governments on the front lines of the public health crisis.
The first bill — a $748 billion package designed to incorporate proposals with broad support on both sides of the aisle — would extend unemployment insurance benefits for 16 weeks, provide $300 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses, as well as $82 billion for education, $45 billion for transportation, $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $35 billion for healthcare providers.
Additionally, the measure includes $13 billion for emergency food assistance, $10 billion for broadband, $10 billion for childcare providers, and $16 billion for testing, tracing, and vaccine development/distribution. The bill would also extend a federal eviction moratorium through January 31, and student loan forbearance through April.
The second bill includes $160 billion for state and local governments, as well as liability protections for businesses, schools, hospitals, and others — two of the most controversial and contentious proposals being negotiated as part of the next stimulus package.
Each state would receive a minimum of $500 million, with additional aid based on revenue losses and population size. Governors would be required to distribute 40% of state funds to local governments, which would be allocated based on proportional population and/or revenue losses. States would be barred from using any of the money to fund pensions.
Both bills could be attached to an omnibus spending bill that Congress must approve by the end of the week in order to avoid a government shutdown.
According to the National Association of Counties:
Although Congress is inching closer to passing a new round of COVID-19 relief, as negotiations continue, aid to state and local governments may be left out of the final bill. Now is the time to make a final push for federal aid to all counties and an extension of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) spending deadline.
We ask that county leaders urge members of Congress to pass a relief bill that provides direct and flexible aid to counties of all sizes. We must ensure that any package Congress passes recognizes the vast county role in addressing this pandemic. Please call on Congress to pass a package that will honor the work of those on the front lines by providing direct and flexible aid to counties of all sizes. Please reach out to both your Representatives and Senators.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.