Update: Senate, House pass spending bill with COVID-19 relief package

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The Senate and House both voted late Monday to pass a spending bill that will provide small direct payments to families, extend unemployment benefits and includes billions of dollars for COVID-19 testing and vaccine rollout.

The Senate will need to act tonight to prevent a government shutdown at midnight.

Highlights

  • $600 stimulus checks for both adults and dependents
  • $280 billion to reopen and strengthen the Paycheck Protection Program; package also creates a simplified PPP loan forgiveness application for loans under $150,000 and allows employers to deduct PPP related businesses expenses
  • $82 billion in funding for schools and universities to assist with reopening for in-person learning; also includes $2.75 billion in designated funds for private K through 12 education
  • $25 billion in temporary and targeted rental assistance for individuals who lost their source of income during the pandemic; extends the eviction moratorium until Jan. 31, 2021
  • $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines that will make the vaccine available at no charge for anyone who needs it
  • $20 billion to assist states with testing
  • $8 billion for vaccine distribution
  • extends a number of unemployment programs created by CARES Act that expire Dec. 31, 2020; also provides unemployed individuals an additional $300 per week for 10 weeks from Dec. 26-March 14, 2021 and extends and phases-out PUA, which is a temporary federal program covering self-employed and gig workers, to March 14 (after which no new applicants) through April 5, 2021
  • $10 billion for grants to childcare centers to help providers safely reopen
  • $4 billion for substance abuse prevention

Responses from Virginia House delegation

Sen. Mark Warner

“For nine long months, folks waited for Congress to deliver critical relief as they watched COVID-19 further devastate their communities. Today, despite that unacceptable delay, relief is officially on its way. I’m proud to have worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to help get this legislation into shape and in the hands of House and Senate leaders. And while I know that this bill is not perfect, I’m glad to know that it will help American families weather this winter and get through the holidays.”

Sen. Tim Kaine

“While this relief should have been passed much earlier, I’m pleased to see families, small businesses, hospitals, schools, and more get the assistance they need. This legislation makes critical investments in unemployment assistance, food aid, housing assistance, and other areas to directly help those struggling amid the pandemic. Though we still have more work to do to help Americans get back on their feet, I’m relieved Congress was able to come to this bipartisan compromise and fund these priorities before the holidays.”

Don Beyer (D-Eighth District)

“The legislation we pass today is a down payment on what Congress owes the American people. It is absolutely not ‘mission accomplished.’ This bill should be much bigger, it should put more money in people’s pockets, it should provide more help and more certainty to the unemployed, and it should do more to boost the economy. It is better than nothing, but it is not nearly enough. The country needed this relief and this support for a more robust pandemic response long ago.

“Once again, as I said in March, the shortcomings in size, scope, and duration, and in the failure to help struggling state and local governments, make it clear even as we pass this legislation that Congress will have to pass another aid package next year. I hope Senate Republicans do not waste seven months denying the American people the assistance they need again in 2021.”

Morgan Griffith (R-Ninth District)

“As a supporter of more relief in response to the coronavirus pandemic, I consistently urged congressional leadership to keep any relief package separate from any omnibus appropriations bill to fund the Federal Government. Omnibuses tend to be bloated, filled with unrelated provisions, and cobbled together in backrooms with little time for Members of Congress to read them, much less understand their provisions. They are a terrible way to exercise Congress’ power of the purse.

“The omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2021 is the longest bill I’ve been asked to vote on in Congress. It was split into two parts running nearly 5,600 pages. The first totaled roughly 500 pages and included funding for the military and border security, including the border wall. I read this part and found its spending to be largely reasonable, so I voted for it.

“The second part containing the remaining 5,000 pages, while reportedly including some provisions I support, also reportedly featured far too many items that have no place in a spending bill. Members of Congress had only a few hours to read and analyze this overstuffed monstrosity. As I have pledged to the constituents of the Ninth District, I will not vote for a bill I have not read in its entirety. I voted no.

“I continue to believe Americans need help in the face of the pandemic, and I know most of my colleagues agree. Legislation that would provide help would likely pass Congress easily, and there is no good reason to tie it to the overall omnibus bill.”

Elaine Luria (D-Second District)

“While not perfect, this deal represents a bipartisan agreement between both the House and the Senate that will keep the federal government operating through the end of the fiscal year as well as provide relief to the families and small businesses suffering from the impacts of this public health emergency and economic crisis,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria. “While this is far from the ideal way to govern, I am pleased this bill will protect our national security and continue programs that assist my constituents in Coastal Virginia.”

Abigail Spanberger (D-Seventh District)

“This emergency relief legislation has the opportunity to provide Central Virginia families, businesses, healthcare workers, and schools with some degree of peace of mind as we approach the holidays. While additional relief is long overdue, today’s progress should be a sign of hope that Congress can move forward – including under the next administration – in rebuilding our economy, ensuring the swift distribution of vaccines, and safely reopening schools and businesses. I’d like to thank my fellow Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus – as well as our colleagues in the U.S. Senate – for coming together as leaders, hammering out our differences, and refusing to accept complacency in the face of a once-in-a-generation pandemic. This package is just a first step in putting our nation back on a pathway toward recovery, and I’ll be pushing in the coming weeks and months for additional measures that will strengthen our economy, stamp out hunger, protect our most vulnerable neighbors, and combat the continued spread of this deadly virus.”

Rob Wittman (R-First District)

“The government funding and COVID-19 relief package Congress passed today is a critical funding bill that funds many of the priorities of the First Congressional District including increased and stable funding for our military, support for our Veterans, investments in broadband and our rural communities, assistance to our Law Enforcement Officers, and much-needed relief to millions of Americans.

“Despite months of delays, unnecessary posturing, and piles of ignored legislation by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats, the package passed today reflects key bipartisan priorities. It includes vital provisions supporting our response to the pandemic, including targeted relief to small businesses, additional funding to speed vaccine production and distribution, and also provides assistance to reopening schools and rebuilding our economy.”

“For months, Speaker Pelosi refused to bring serious legislation to the floor to address the COVID-19 pandemic and provide relief for millions of Americans.  Instead of working together to pass what we could agree on, the Speaker forced the House to vote on massive partisan bills earlier this year, one that cost over $3 trillion dollars and was filled  with Democratic policy riders that had no chance of becoming law.  However, today’s bill includes a $900 billion coronavirus pandemic relief package specifically designed to help Americans who have suffered as a result of this pandemic.

“This bill extends the Paycheck Protection Program and provides additional relief to small businesses. It includes an extension of pandemic unemployment insurance, providing relief to the millions of Americans whose businesses have closed or who have been out of work due to the pandemic. And it includes direct payments that will go to most Americans. Once again, this bill represents a bipartisan compromise – and one that frankly should have been done months ago with bipartisan approval had it not been for Speaker Pelosi’s insistence on playing political games.”

For months, I had called on my colleagues in Washington to come to a workable deal for the American people providing targeted relief, an extension of the job-saving Paycheck Protection Program, and other vital services and programs for individuals, families, and businesses necessary for our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This relief bill is great news but comes too late for the millions of Americans and thousands of small businesses that suffered for months as Speaker Pelosi refused to pass targeted relief.

“I will continue advocating for the people of Virginia’s First Congressional District in Washington and will do my utmost to hold Members of Congress accountable to the people we serve.”

Story by Chris Graham


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