December 22, 2020•Advocacy Matters
COVID Stimulus Package
Disability Matters with Joyce Bender
December 22, 2020
COVID Stimulus Package
The United States Senate and House of Representatives are in their designated state work periods until the 117th Congress is sworn in on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Before members left, they approved the Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations Bills to fund the government through September 30, 2021. They also passed a $104 billion-dollar COVID stimulus package.
Between the COVID stimulus package, the FY 21 Appropriations, and legislation that was attached to those packages which reauthorized expiring programs, people with disabilities, our families, and the business community achieved much of what we were looking for to keep people employed, keep a roof over our heads, afford groceries, apply the new one-time direct payments toward our most pressing needs, and breathe a sigh of relief that urgently needed money is coming through extended unemployment benefits.
The bipartisan COVID relief agreement provides substantial and urgently needed resources that will help us get through the next few months. Many of us in the disability community know that the package it is not as comprehensive as we would have hoped, but we are already at work with the new Congress and the new Administration so they will act together swiftly to address our unmet needs.
Let us talk in more detail about some of the provisions and tell you what is on our website at disabilityrightspa.org.
Among other things, the package will:
Provides billions of dollars to speed up the free distribution of COVID vaccines to as many people as possible. This also includes funds for more testing and contact tracing and additional resources going to combat COVID health disparities facing communities of color.
Congress has extended the Paycheck Protection Program, expanded its reach into the nonprofit community and media organizations as well as independent restaurants. Congress also included relief for live venues, independent movie theaters, and other cultural gathering places.
Congress provided dedicated funds for minority and small business lending.
$25 billion is dedicated to rental assistance and the extension of the eviction moratorium was passed through January 31, 2021.
Congress passed a new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and $600 per child. There is no cap on the amount you can receive per child. ($75,000/$150,000 income thresholds.)
There is a tax credit to support businesses that offer paid sick leave based on the framework from the Families First law which expired.
Congress authorized an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits for 11 weeks. If you had unemployment benefits that expired, you are to contact your Unemployment Office to determine the process for filing for this new benefit.
There are additional funds for SNAP and child nutrition benefits.
While there is no support for state and local governments, Congress provided $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools to mitigate the virus through HVAC repairs and modifications and to reopen classrooms.
$10 billion for child-care assistance to keep providers open and to aid families.
Extends and expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit program so businesses can keep employees on the payroll. Instead of a $10,000 overall credit, the program is now $10,000 per quarter. The program is authorized through June 30, 2021.
For the Future
State, local, and tribal governments are still in need of aid. Without additional support, disability advocates worry that lawmakers will make cuts to essential services like education and health care and lay off state and local public employees.
Advocates do appreciate the extension of unemployment, increases in SNAP benefits for 6-months, the $600 direct stimulus payment per adult and child, and the one-month extension of the eviction moratorium. If the economy does not improve, if our people are not back to work, then Congress will have to look at additional extensions of these programs.
Providers of home and community-based services were looking for additional support to help offset additional operating costs due to COVID 19.
This bipartisan COVID relief package is a critical down payment on the relief that is needed to get us through this crisis, but it is only just a down payment. The new Congress and President-Elect Biden will need to act in early 2021 to provide additional relief to people with disabilities, our families, our providers, and businesses to help us and our economy. The new Congress is sworn in on January 3, 2021. The inauguration is January 20, 2021.
FY 2021 Appropriations and COVID Stimulus Package
Senator Stabenow’s (D-MI) Press Release on SNAP Increase
U.S. House of Representatives Republican Ways and Means Release
U.S. House of Representative Democratic Appropriations Committee Fact Sheets