After months of gridlock, Congress today struck a deal on a nearly $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that includes an 11-week extension of federal unemployment benefits, $600 direct payments to Americans based on income, and additional funding for businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.
According to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the measure will temporarily extend a federal eviction moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of this month. The bill will also include funding for vaccine distribution, schools, broadband, transportation, and rental assistance.
While the agreement does not include direct funding for state and local governments, it does extend the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) spending deadline to December 30, 2021.
The CRF was established under the CARES Act and provides $150 billion in federal aid for state, county, and municipal governments to address significant expenditures related to public health and safety needs. As established under the CARES Act, state and local CRF allocations must be spent by December 30, 2020.
As leaders in the fight against COVID-19, counties are expending CRF funds to address immediate health and safety concerns, as well as to promote economic resiliency and recovery. From small business support grant programs to rental and mortgage assistance, these dollars have been critical for counties to properly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
We are disappointed that Republicans have refused to recognize the need to honor our heroic frontline workers by supporting robust funding for state and local governments. State and local governments need much more funding to prevent senseless layoffs and critical service cuts. The agreement does provide some new targeted funds for government functions that will help ease their budget burdens.
Those “targeted funds” include $82 billion for colleges and schools, $27 billion for transportation, and $22 billion for health-related expenses. Speaker Pelosi said that Democrats will continue to push for additional aid for state and local governments once President-elect Joe Biden takes office next month.
Lawmakers are expected to vote on the package — which will be tied to a $1.4 trillion spending bill that will fund the federal government through September 30, 2021 — as soon as Monday.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.