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Rep. Chu Statement on COVID-19 Relief Bill

December 21, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed HR. 133, an omnibus bill to fund the government through fiscal year 2021 and provide additional COVID-19 relief to the country. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) voted for the bill and issued the following statement:

“America is struggling. And my priority right now is to contain this virus and get as much economic help as possible to businesses and families as quickly as possible. That is why I am supporting today’s Omnibus and COVID-19 relief bill. While this is not the bill I would have preferred – that would be the Heroes Act which the House passed 7 months ago – I am glad to know that there are some significant policies in this bill that will help us fight this virus and provide some security while the economy is on hold. It also meets the immediate need to fund our government through the remainder of the fiscal year, removing the disruptive threat of a government shutdown for now. And I’m reassured knowing this is not the end. In the coming weeks, we will begin a new Administration that understands the need to pass more COVID-19 relief, which I am eager to begin working on. But as we begin crafting the next round of necessary COVID-19 relief, I am glad that we are able to  help meet the urgent need from our healthcare providers, workers who have lost their jobs, families, teachers, and more through this bill.

“For starters, this bill helps us fight the Coronavirus by providing $20 billion for vaccines and therapeutics, and another $8.75 billion to the CDC and states to help with vaccine distribution. The $22 billion for testing, contact tracing, and COVID mitigation in this bill will also be vital for containing the spread while we distribute the vaccine.  It also helps relieve the burdens on our exhausted healthcare system, by providing an additional $3 billion for the Provider Relief Fund, extending funding for our Community Health Centers for three years, and protecting patients by prohibiting surprise medical billing.

“The next priority is to help families weather this crisis, which this bill begins to do by including $120 billion for Unemployment Insurance programs, including an extra $300 per week. Mixed-income workers that have both W-2 wages and independent contractor wages are also eligible for extra unemployment insurance of $100 per week.  I am particularly proud that this support for mixed-income workers was included as so many of my constituents work in the entertainment industry and supplement their income with W-2 work, but do not have both incomes recognized in their unemployment insurance. That is why Rep. Adam Schiff and I fought to protect these workers. It also sends Economic Impact Payments of $600 per person for most households. Significantly, this bill, unlike the CARES Act, includes mixed-status families where one spouse files their taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number instead of a Social Security Number. This is essential. If we want to protect the economy, then we must ensure that immigrant families are included in our relief efforts.

“But we know a one-time payment of $600 is not enough for too many families who are struggling to get by, so, in addition to funding government programs through September, this bill boosts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15% for six months, invests $400 million food banks, and provides $25 billion to help renters stay in their homes.

“We must also protect our businesses. Small businesses, in particular, are going to be essential for rebuilding the economy as they account for two out of every three new jobs, and so I am glad that this bill helps more businesses stay on their feet so they are ready to bounce back as soon as possible. This bill helps by adding $248 billion for another round of the Paycheck Protection Program, including second-draw loans for the hardest hit businesses. Importantly, this funding comes with dedicated set-asides for very small businesses and community lenders to ensure that these funds are getting where they are intended. It also provides another $20 billion new Economic Injury Disaster Loans for small businesses in low-income communities. But even with PPP, many businesses risk disappearing before the end of this crisis, which is why this bill provides $15 billion in funding for live venues, theaters, museums, and zoos that experienced a 25% or greater drop in revenues.

“This bill was too long in coming and is not sufficient to get us through the rest of this crisis. But I am grateful that it does provide immediate relief to people who need it. And I hope this will help establish a starting point for the next round of COVID-19 relief in the new year.”

Other highlights included in the COVID-19 relief bill are:

HEALTHCARE 

  • Ends Surprise Medical Billing. This language protects patients and ensures they will not be subject to surprise medical bills.
  • Health Extenders: Community Health Centers, 3- year delay of the Medicaid DSH cuts, The National Quality Forum (NQF). 
  • Medicaid coverage to COFA migrants
  • Healthcare Provisions Combatting COVID-19 
    • $20 billion for procurement of vaccines and therapeutics
    • $8.75 billion to the CDC and states for vaccine distribution 
    • $3 billion for the strategic national stockpile, including $300 million specifically directed to high risk and underserved areas for distribution, including communities of color.
    • $22 billion , for testing, tracing and COVID mitigation programs. 
      • $2.5 billion in grants specifically targeting underserved areas, including both communities of color and rural communities.
    • $1.15 billion for research and clinical trials related to long-term studies of COVID-19. This is for long-hauler research, which you have supported. 
  • Provider Relief 
    • $3 billion and new distribution requirements for the Provider Relief Fund
    • Delays Medicare sequester cuts March 31, 2021, saving providers $9 billion
    • $3 billion in budget neutrality adjustments to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

TAXES

  • Economic Impact Payments
    • $600 payment per person with a Social Security Number under the same formula as the CARES Act.
    • Mixed-Status Households: Households with mixed-immigration status are eligible to receive a payment for each member of their household with a SSN, as long as one adult has a SSN. Households in which both adults file with ITINs but children have SSNs are not eligible. This change is also retroactive to the first round of payments under the CARES Act.
  • Tax Treatment of Paycheck Protection Program Loans
    • Clarifies businesses who receive forgiveness on their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) are not penalized on their taxes 
    • Clarifies that deductions are allowed for otherwise deductible expenses paid with the proceeds of a PPP loan that is forgiven, and that the tax basis and other attributes of the borrower’s assets will not be reduced as a result of the loan forgiveness. 
  • Child Tax Credit/Earned Income Tax Credit – includes a temporary “look back” provision to allow lower-income individuals to use their earned income from tax year 2019 to determine the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit (i.e., the Additional Child Tax Credit) in the 2020 tax year. This will help workers who experienced lower wages this year, due to the pandemic, to get a larger refund that is consistent with their earnings from prior filing seasons. 

SMALL BUSINESS 

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Appropriates $284 billion for first and second PPP loans up to $2 million each, with dedicated set-asides for very small businesses and community lenders, through March 31, 2021
    • Creates a second round of PPP for businesses with 300 or fewer employees and have seen a 25% drop in revenue in any quarter relative to 2019
    • Due to their significant hardship, Restaurants would be eligible for 3.5x monthly payroll (increase from normal allowance of 2.5x payroll)
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL): $20 billion in new EIDL emergency advance grants for small businesses in low-income communities
  • Direct assistance to live venues and theaters: $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, theaters, museums, and zoos that experienced a 25% or greater drop in revenues 
  • Debt Relief for Traditional SBA loans: Extends the debt relief program established under the CARES Act by resuming the payment of principal and interest on the Small Business Administration (SBA) -guaranteed 7(a), 504, and microloans. 

EDUCATION

  • Assistance to K-12 schools and institutions of higher education: $81.9 billion for education stabilization funding
    • $54.3 billion for K-12 schools which will enable schools to make repairs and improvements to improve safety for in-person instruction, , and address learning loss among students
    • $22.7 billion for colleges and universities
    • $4.1 billion for the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund
    • $1.7 billion set aside for HBCUs and MSIs

NUTRITION/AGRICULTURE

  • Nutrition Assistance: 
    • $13 billion to boost the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15% for six months
    • $400 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to invest in commodities and distribution for food banks

US POSTAL SERVICE (USPS)

  • Converts the $10 billion CARES Act loan to direct funding that does not require repayment

Children and Families

  • Provides $400 million to support foster youth and their families through the pandemic
  • $10 billion for Child Care Development Block Grant to provide assistance to child care providers

HOUSING

  • Rental Assistance Fund – $25 billion for the Treasury to distribute to states, cities with over 200,000 residents, territories, and tribes to address the ongoing needs of renters struggling to pay their rent or utilities. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that California will receive approximately $2.644 billion of this funding.
  • Eviction Moratorium – the bill extends the federal eviction moratorium, first enacted by the CARES Act and then extended by the Centers for Disease Control, through January 31, 2021. 

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY 

  • The CASE Act - this bill would create a “small claims court” within the U.S. Copyright Office to handle certain copyright disputes.

ENERGY INNOVATION

  • Sets new standards for energy and water efficiency in federal buildings
  • Authorizes new investments in solar, wind, geothermal, energy storage, carbon mitigation, and nuclear research and development
  • Reauthorizes the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA),
  • Requires a phasedown of the use of polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% over 15 years

TRANSPORTATION

  • Airline Payroll Support Program - $15 billion to renew the CARES Act program which will keep workers on payroll without furloughs or reducing pay rates and benefits until March 31, 2021, with requirements for airlines to rehire workers laid off after Sept. 30, 2020, as well as stipulations preventing airlines from using funds for stock buybacks, executive bonuses, or for utilizing the funds in anything other than supporting workers.
  • Transit Agencies - $14 billion to provide operational aid due to COVID-related revenue shortfalls.
  • Highways – $10 billion in road, bridge, walking, and biking funding to continue building critical projects that connect residents and put employees back to work.

HORSERACING

  • Includes the text of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act to improve the integrity and safety of horseracing by requiring uniform safety and performance standards, including a horseracing anti-doping and medication control program and a racetrack safety program, to be developed and enforced by an independent Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.  

FY 2021 Omnibus

Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration

  • $6 billion in discretionary funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • $25.1 billion in required mandatory funding for child nutrition programs
  • $114 billion in mandatory spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Commerce, Justice, Science

  • $48 million for Minority Business Development Agency
  • $28.2 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
    • $2 billion for Earth Science
    • $2.7 billion for Planetary Science
  • $8.5 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Energy and Water

  • $7.8 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, including $192.5 million for maintenance of the Whittier Narrows Dam in Pico Rivera.
  • $39.6 billion for the Department of Energy
    • $2.86 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
    • $7.026 billion for the Office of Science
    • $427 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)

Financial Services & General Government

  • $11.92 billion for IRS with increases to all four IRS accounts, including: 
    • $5.2 billion for enforcement
  • $778.9 million for SBA, including $272 million for Entrepreneurial Development Programs like Small Business Development Centers

Homeland Security

  • $20 million for the Office of Immigration Detention Ombudsman to investigate and resolve complaints regarding misconduct by DHS personnel and violations of rights of individuals in DHS custody
  • No funding for additional immigration enforcement personnel
  • Prohibits DHS from destroying records related to the death, sexual assault to abuse of individuals in its custody
  • Ensures that information shared with ICE by HHS on potential sponsors of unaccompanied children cannot be used by ICE for detention or removal purposes, unless the sponsor has a dangerous criminal background.
  • Prohibits DHS from placing pregnant women in restraints except in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Reduces the funding for ICE by over $400 million

Interior-Environment

  • $5.27 billion for Wildland Fire Management
  • $3.46 billion for the Forest Service (non-fire) accounts to manage resources like the San Gabriel Mountains
  • $1.3 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey including $25.7 billion for continued development and expansion of the ShakeAlert West Coast Early Earthquake Warning System

Labor-HHS

  • $286 million for the Title X Family Planning Program 
  • $25 million split evenly for federal research at the CDC and NIH into our nation’s gun violence epidemic,
  • $40.6 billion for K-12 education including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and $16.5 billion for Title-I high-need schools
  • $24.5 billion for Federal student aid programs
    • $6,495 for the maximum Pell Grant, an increase of $150 above the 2020 enacted level
  • $789 million for Minority-Serving Institutions
    • This includes $5.12 million in discretionary funding for Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI), which is an increase of $676,000 over FY20. 
  • Language to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by shortening the form, expanding the automatic zero expected family contribution, and authorizing data sharing with IRS. 
  • Language to restore the Pell Grant to incarcerated people 

Transportation-HUD

  • $1 billion for National Infrastructure Investments (TIGER/BUILD) grants
  • $582 million for Rail Infrastructure grant programs, including $375 million for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements
  • $25.8 billion for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, including $43 million in new, targeted funding for homeless families and $40 million for homeless veterans.
  • $73 million for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
  • $57.5 million for Housing Counseling Assistance