Earlier this week, Congressional leaders announced that details of a bipartisan $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill were being finalized. And as of Wednesday evening, they planned to attach to that funding bill an agreement that hastily came together within the last few days of over $900 billion dedicated to COVID-19 related aid. After months of stop-and-go negotiations on both federal spending and the next coronavirus stimulus package, lawmakers appear poised to compromise as both unemployment insurance benefits supported by the federal government, as well as overall spending authority, face deadlines.
Discussions around the stimulus deal heated up after two of the most controversial issues – additional funding for state and local governments and liability protections for businesses – were effectively tabled. Official bill text had yet to be released, but below are highlights of what the stimulus agreement is expected to include (totals are approximate as of this writing):
- $6 billion in funding for vaccine development and distribution, over $3 billion of which will be direct grants for states and local governments
- $7 billion in direct grants for state and local governments for increased testing and contact tracing
- $35 billion for health care providers
- $25 billion in rental assistance to states and local governments
- $82 billion for education providers, the bulk of which would go to elementary and secondary schools
- $325 billion in small business relief, including an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program at $257 billion
- Direct stimulus payments to individuals, likely between $600 - $700
- An extension of all pandemic unemployment insurance programs as well as an expansion of the Federal supplement for unemployment assistance by $300 through March
- Transportation funding for airports and public transit systems
To avoid a government shutdown this Friday, Congress will need to move quickly before the current short-term extension expires. A stop gap may be needed as work on the legislation may spill into the weekend. Even with immediate passage of a spending bill, some recipients of unemployment insurance could face a sharp reduction in benefits while waiting for newly authorized funds to be deployed. Once additional details of the stimulus package are released, GFOA will provide further analysis on its Federal Advocacy Page.