Scalise And The House Republicans Are Claiming A Win On COVID Relief

We’re not particularly sold on much of anything which pushes our national debt toward $30 trillion, and does nothing much to reopen America’s economy after such a disastrous year, particularly when there are literally millions of doses of vaccines going into arms now. But there was going to be a COVID relief packaged passed eventually, and given that the positive political effect for President Trump is no longer a consideration, that it would pass today isn’t much of a surprise.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is touting the final agreement as a Republican win. We’ll take him at his word. Here’s what Scalise said in a press release late last night…

The final COVID Relief package is approximately $900 billion, or a net of approximately $325 billion after rescinding $429 billion in Federal Reserve 13(3) authority and repurposing unused PPP funds, compared to the $3.4 trillion Heroes 1 and $2.4 trillion Heroes 2. The final package does not include the Democrats’ liberal wish list demands for blue state bailouts, checks for illegal immigrants, and federal prisoner release.

COVID Relief: 

  • Extends the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and adds deductibility for PPP expenses
    • Gives businesses experiencing severe revenue reductions an opportunity to apply for a second draw PPP loan
    • Includes 501(c)(6) organizations but excludes unions from eligibility
    • $15 billion in funding for entertainment venues, movie theaters, and museums that are experiencing significant revenue loss
    • Codifies federal rules that ensure churches and faith-based organizations are eligible for PPP loans
  • Reopening America
    • $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines that will make the vaccine available at no charge for anyone who needs it
    • $8 billion for vaccine distribution
    • $20 billion to assist states with testing
    • $20 billion distribution from existing provider relief fund
  • Ends CARES Act emergency powers for the Federal Reserve
    • Rescinds $429 billion in unused funds provided by the CARES Act for the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending facilities and terminates these facilities to ensure that Democrats cannot use these funds to bail out poorly managed blue states
  • Stimulus checks — $600 for both adults and dependents with safeguards to prohibit illegal aliens from receiving payment
  • Temporarily extends a number of unemployment programs created by CARES Act that expire Dec. 31, 2020
    • Provide unemployed individuals an additional $300 per week for 10 weeks from December 26, 2020-March 14, 2021
    • 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 – significant progress made over past several years on opioid addiction has been reversed because of impact of COVID lockdowns
  • $82 billion in funding for schools and universities to assist with reopening for in-person learning that 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 January 31, 2021
  • $7 billion in broadband funding that includes
    • Nearly $2 billion to replace foreign-manufactured broadband equipment that poses national security threats
    • $300 million to build out rural broadband
    • $250 million for telehealth
  • $45 billion for transportation, including
    • $16 billion for another round of airline employee and contractor payroll support
    • $14 billion for transit
    • $10 billion for highways
    • $2 billion for intercity buses
    • $2 billion for airports
    • $1 billion for Amtrak
  • Increases SNAP benefits by 15% for six months, but does not expand eligibility, and requires the Secretary to issue a report on redemption rate and unexpended balances
  • Provides funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, a program that serves over 700,000 older Americans monthly
  • $13 billion to support our farmers and agriculture sector
    • Enhances assistance under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to support specialty crop, non-specialty crop, livestock, dairy, and poultry producers
    • Gives discretionary authority to the Secretary to support producers of biofuels, producers of organics or value-added products, and timber harvesting and hauling businesses
    • Additional funding is directed to programs that support local producers and new and beginning farmers, dairy producers, dairy processors via reimbursement for donated dairy products, fisheries, textile mills, agricultural research, small and medium size meat processors, and to state departments of agriculture for farm stress programs

Omnibus:

  • Completes the FY21 appropriations process and adheres to the established budget caps despite Democrat demands to break the caps
  • Provides our military with the resources to defend our nation and advance U.S. national security
  • Includes a 3% pay raise for the troops and provides the resources to continue rebuild our military, deter adversaries, and defend our national security interests
  • Provides the Trump Administration flexibility to build the wall and manage detention needs along the border
    • $1.375 billion in new funding for the wall and additional funding for border security technology and enforcement
    • $20 million for new border processing coordinators
    • Protects the President’s authority to use funds for immigration and border law enforcement actions
  • Increases funding for House Republican priorities, such as continuing support for our law enforcement, NASA, maintaining our nuclear deterrent, and an all-of-the-above energy strategy
    • Rejects Democrat efforts to defund the police and provides strong support for our nation’s federal, state, and local law enforcement
    • Prioritizes funding to protect national security interests, enhance school safety, advance scientific research and exploration, and combatting the opioid epidemic
  • Preserves pro-life protections and other conservative riders in current law
    • Prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment of the mother
    • Prohibits the creation or destruction of embryos for research purposes
    • Protects the Trump Administration’s Title X Family Planning regulations
    • Maintains the Hyde Amendment, Tiahrt Amendment, Helms Amendment, Dickey Amendment, and Kemp-Kasten Amendment
  • Deprives new administration of artificial funding cliffs

Other Matters:

  • Extends important public health programs for three years, including community health centers – eliminating several funding cliffs over next several years
  • Ends surprise medical billing
    • True and honest cost estimate for patients three days prior to scheduled procedure
    • Arbitration – independent dispute resolution process with no benchmark rate and multiple factors (but not government program reimbursement rates) which can be considered in arbitration process
  • Supports Front Line Health Care Providers by injecting billions of dollars into Medicare physician pay in 2021 and heading off payment cuts due to be enacted next year
  • Improves support for Rural and Underserved Health Care
  • Tax extenders package includes permanence for some policies, multi-year extensions for others and eliminates outdated or misguided policies
    • Makes meals deductible business expense for 2 years
  • Technical corrections to USMCA
  • Energy package includes Republican priorities such as promoting carbon capture and utilization, ending reliance on critical minerals from foreign countries, and creating commercial opportunities for advanced nuclear technologies.
  • Includes Intel reauthorization
  • Includes pipeline reauthorization as well as bipartisan agreement to reform aircraft certification process
  • Includes WRDA Reauthorization


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