The massive year-end catch-all bill that President Donald Trump enacted combines $ 900 billion in COVID-19 aid with a $ 1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill and heaps of other unfinished tax, energy, education and health care laws.
Highlights of the measure with overall funding amounts and specific amounts for some but not necessarily all initiatives.
Unemployment insurance ($ 120 billion). Restores additional federal unemployment benefits in the event of a pandemic, but to $ 300 per week – until March 14 – instead of the $ 600 per week of benefits that expired in July. Extends special pandemic benefits for “concert” workers and extends the maximum period of state-paid unemployment benefits to 50 weeks.
Direct payments ($ 166 billion). Provides direct payments of $ 600 to people earning up to $ 75,000 per year; $ 1,200 for couples earning up to $ 150,000 per year – payments being phased out for higher incomes – and $ 600 in additional payments per dependent child.
Paycheque Protection Program ($ 284 billion). Revives the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to qualified businesses. Particularly affected companies that have received PPP grants would be eligible for a second round. Ensures that PPP grants are not taxed.
Vaccines, tests, health providers ($ 69 billion). Provides more than $ 30 billion for the purchase of vaccines and treatments, distribution funds for states and a strategic stock. Adds $ 22 billion for testing, tracing and mitigation, $ 9 billion for healthcare providers and $ 4.5 billion for mental health.
Schools and universities ($ 82 billion). Provides $ 54 billion to public schools K-12 affected by the pandemic and $ 23 billion to colleges and universities; $ 4 billion would be allocated to an emergency relief fund for the education of governors; nearly a billion dollars for Native American schools.
Rent assistance ($ 25 billion). Provides money for first-ever federal rent assistance program; funds will be distributed by state and local governments to help those in arrears with rent payments and at risk of eviction.
Food / agricultural aid ($ 26 billion). Increases stamp benefits by 15% for six months and provides funding for food banks, meals on wheels and other food aid. Provides an equal amount ($ 13 billion) to farmers and ranchers.
Child care ($ 10 billion). Provides $ 10 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant to help families meet child care costs and help providers cover increased operating costs.
Postal service ($ 10 billion). Forgive a $ 10 billion loan to the postal service provided for in previous relief legislation.
OMNIBUS CREDITS ($ 1.4 TILLION)
The omnibus measure consolidates 12 expense invoices into one and finances the operating budgets of the agencies until September 30 of next year. It combines Democratic priorities such as an increase of $ 12.5 billion over existing budget limits for national programs while reducing immigration and customs detention and removal costs by $ 431 million. COVID-19 has contributed to a sharp drop in costs. Republicans have supported sustained defense spending, energy supplies, and long-standing bans on federal abortion funding. The measure also provides President Donald Trump with a final installment of $ 1.4 billion for a wall on the US-Mexico border.
The measure also contains more than 3,000 pages of various legislative texts, such as:
Surprise medical billing. Includes bipartite legislation to protect consumers from huge surprise medical bills after receiving treatment from off-grid providers.
Community health centers. Re-authorizes community health center funding for three years and expands a variety of expiring health care policies, including reimbursement rates for various health care providers and procedures under Medicare and Medicaid
Tax extenders. Extends a variety of expiring tax breaks, including lower excise taxes on craft brewers and distillers. Renewable energy sources would see the tax breaks extended, as would motorsport facilities and people making charitable contributions. Business meals would be 100% deductible until 2022 and health care expenses would be deductible after reaching 7.5% of income. It would also extend favorable tax treatment to “transient” entities of offshore subsidiaries of US companies.
Water projects. Includes an almost 400-page Water Resources Bill that targets $ 10 billion for 46 Army Corps of Engineers flood control, environmental and coastal protection projects.
Clean energy. Stimulates “clean energy” programs like research and development, efficiency incentives and tax credits. Gradually eliminates “superpollutant” hydrochlorofluorocarbons.
Education. Includes a bipartisan deal to cancel roughly $ 1.3 billion in federal loans to historically black colleges and universities and simplify college financial aid forms. Increases the maximum Pell Grant for low income students from $ 150 to $ 6,495. Offers “second chance” Pell scholarships to incarcerated prisoners.
Horse racing “doping”. Adds bipartisan legislation from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., To create national drug and safety standards for the horse racing industry as lawmakers scramble to crack down on the use of enhancing drugs performance that can lead to injury and death in horses.
New Smithsonian Museums. Establishes the Women’s History Museum and the National Museum of the American Latino as new Smithsonian Museums located near the National Mall.
Safety of pipelines. Roll back pipeline safety legislation re-authorizing operating subsidies and safety standards for oil and gas pipelines.
Aircraft safety. Adds, after the Boeing 737 MAX crash scandal, legislation to strengthen the Federal Aviation Administration’s aircraft certification process. Addresses human factors, cockpit automation and international pilot training while authorizing nearly $ 275 million over the next five years to enforce the legislation.
Intelligence programs. Re-authorizes intelligence programs for 2021.