12.21.20

Congress Passes Additional $900 Billion in Coronavirus Relief Funding

Funding extends critical Paycheck Protection Program, provides direct assistance to families, and prioritizes vaccine distribution

Today, Congress passed a year-end appropriations package, which included a historic, bipartisan agreement delivering additional coronavirus relief funding for American families, businesses, health care providers, and schools.  

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who voted in favor of this relief funding, released the following statement after the Senate’s passage.

“As the number of coronavirus cases continues to mount, small businesses, restaurants, families, and health care workers are doing their best to navigate the unprecedented challenges of this pandemic,” said Senator Burr. “Small businesses and restaurants are trying to keep their doors open and their employees on payroll. Families are trying to make ends meet while helping friends and neighbors. And health care workers have been on the frontlines of this fight for months without rest.

“This essential and long overdue funding package will provide targeted relief for Americans who need it most. It continues the Payroll Protection Program, creates a second round of direct payments to families, extends unemployment aid, ensures schools are safe, and supports the availability of tests, treatments, and vaccine to fight coronavirus. These are priorities Senate Republicans have pushed for since July. It’s unfortunate that Democrats’ political gamesmanship blocked Congress from delivering this relief months ago. With today’s passage, however, I’m thankful Congress has finally delivered an additional relief package that prioritizes Americans’ health and economic security.”

Background:

Today’s coronavirus relief package represents the fifth phase of funding Congress has provided this year. Specifically, this installment:

  • Provides $325 billion to assist the hardest-hit small businesses, non-profits, and venues. This includes $284.5 billion to extend and improve the Paycheck Protection Program by providing fully forgivable loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll and for other vital expenses.
  • Provides $73 billion to health care efforts, including testing, contact tracing, surveillance, vaccine purchasing and distribution, and mental health services. Of this amount, $19.7 billion will go towards the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and $3.25 billion towards the Strategic National Stockpile.
  • Enhances unemployment insurance programs by providing unemployed individuals an additional $300 per week until March 14, 2021, increasing the number of weeks an individual may claim benefits from 39 weeks to 50 weeks, and extending other programs for the self-employed and gig workers.
  • Provides $25 billion in rental assistance, which can be used for previous or future rent and utility payments. It also extends the national eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021.
  • Provides immediate financial relief to American workers and families who fall below the income threshold by distributing $600 in direct payments for individuals and $600 per adult and per child for families.
  • Provides $82 billion to help schools and universities reopen safely and responsibly. 
  • Provides $15 billion to support the airline industry and their employees through March 31, 2021.
  • Provides $11.2 billion in COVID-related assistance to support agriculture producers and growers.
  • Recovers and repurposes more than $429 billion in unused money that Congress already appropriated through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The last installment of coronavirus relief funding was passed by Congress on April 21, 2020. Senator Burr voted to support a targeted relief funding package on September 10, 2020, which was blocked by Senate Democrats.

In March, Congress passed three rounds of emergency relief funding. The first installment, theCoronavirus, Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, included nearly $7.8 billion to increase federal coordination with state and local officials. The second installment, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, provided free coronavirus testing, expanded paid family leave, and increased emergency nutritional assistance. The third installment, the historic Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, created the Paycheck Protection Program, provided direct payments to families and workers in need, and increased funding for the development of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.

The House of Representatives passed the fifth phase of funding on December 21, 2020.