— CONGRESS STRIKES DEAL ON VIRUS RELIEF, FY 2021 OMNIBUS. Congressional leadership struck a deal on a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package over the weekend, paving the way for passage of the fiscal year (FY) 2021 omnibus as soon as this evening.
— DETAILS ON THE FY 2021 SPENDING DEAL. In addition to $1.4 trillion in funding for FY 2021, this last moving legislative vehicle is carrying several key legislative priorities to close out the 116th Congress. Text should be released in the next hour or so.
— NEW MEMBERS OF THE INCOMING BIDEN ADMINISTRATION. Click here to view TRP's running list of officials named to President-elect Joe Biden's team.
— NEW MEMBERS FOR THE 117TH CONGRESS. Click here to view TRP's running list of new Members and Senators for the next Congress.
— 2020 ELECTION STATE OF PLAY. Click here to view TRP's report on the outcome of the 2020 election and preview of the 117th Congress.
Capitol Hill Update
— CONGRESS STRIKES DEAL ON VIRUS RELIEF, FY 2021 OMNIBUS. Congressional leadership struck a deal on a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package over the weekend, paving the way for passage of the fiscal year (FY) 2021 omnibus as soon as this evening. The deal comes after hours of negotiations over the future of several CARES Act lending facilities over the weekend. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was able to reach a compromise with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) that would roll back four programs — the primary market corporate credit facility, secondary market corporate credit facility, Main Street lending program, and the municipal credit facility — and use the unspent funding as an offset for the virus relief deal. While congressional aides reportedly worked all night to finalize the text of the deal, final bill text has not been released but is reportedly imminent. The House Rules Committee is expected to meet shortly after the bill is posted to initiate legislative proceedings in the lower chamber.
— DETAILS ON THE FY 2021 SPENDING DEAL. The massing omnibus spending bill would provide $1.4 trillion in funding for FY 2021 and an additional $900 billion fiscal stimulus, including another round of direct stimulus payments, enhanced unemployment benefits, and billions of dollars for struggling industries. This last moving legislative vehicle will also carry several key legislative priorities to close out the 116th Congress, including a health package that addresses extenders and surprise billing, a compromise version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), tax extenders legislation, and reauthorization of several programs under the Higher Education Act.
Lawmakers are still in the process of drafting bill text for the mammoth year-end deal, passing a one-day stopgap funding measure late last night to provide additional breathing room to avoid a shutdown. Barring any objections in the Senate, both chambers are expected to vote on the omnibus later today, but timing on votes is in flux as of now. Unemployment benefits would expire in mid-March under the agreement, likely setting up another deadline for additional congressional action early next year.
— WHAT'S IN THE COVID-19 RELIEF DEAL? — Key provisions in the COVID-19 relief package include:
- Small Businesses. The bill would provide $325 billion toward relief for small businesses, including $284 billion that is allocated for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It also designates $15 billion in PPP funding for live venues and $20 billion for new EIDL grants for businesses in low-income communities. The deal includes language that seeks to simplify the loan forgiveness process and would provide PPP eligibility for 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations.
- Health Care. The package allocates $69 billion for various health care related needs. This includes: (1) $ 22 billion for COVID-19 testing infrastructure; (2) roughly $20 billion toward procurement of vaccines and therapeutics; (3) nearly $9 billion to the CDC and states for vaccine distribution; (4) over $3 billion for the strategic national stockpile; (5) $9 billion for health care providers; and (6) $4.5 billion in funding for mental health services. In addition, the deal would allocate $250 million for broadband services for telehealth.
- Transit. The agreement would allocate $45 billion in emergency funding for the transportation sector. Specifically, this includes: (1) $15 billion for airline payroll support; (2) $1 billion for airline contractor payrolls; (3) $10 billion for state highways; (4) $2 billion for airports and airport concessionaires; (5) $2 billion for the private motorcoach, school bus, and ferry industries; (6) $1 billion for Amtrak; and (7) $14 billion for transit such as light rail and bus.
- Broadband. The bill would allocate $7 billion for provisions pertaining to broadband connectivity, which includes a $3.2 billion set-aside for low-income families to access broadband by way of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fund. It would also provide a $2 billion pot for small telecommunications firms to use toward replacing Huawei/ZTE equipment.
- Child Care & Nutrition. The bill would provide $10 billion toward the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), with a $250 million pot for Head Start providers. The legislation also includes $13 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which will increase benefits by 15 percent.
- Unemployment. The bill would renew the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program with an extra $300 per week. The bill would also provide an extra $100 per week for individuals with both wage and contractor income whose base unemployment insurance benefit does not account for their contractor income. Furthermore, the bill includes another round of direct economic impact payments of $600 for individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 per year, as well as a $600 payment for each child dependent.
- Education. The deal includes $82 billion for education-related needs. This breakdown includes: (1) $54 billion dedicated to K-12; (2) $23 billion dedicated to higher education; and (3) $4 billion for the CARES Act Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund.
- Housing. The bill would provide $25 billion for emergency rental assistance. It also would extend the federal moratorium on evictions through January 31, 2021.
- Community Lending. The deal would provide $12 billion for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI), with set-asides to facilitate targeted emergency investments to help low-income and minority communities.
- Postal Service. The deal would convert a $10 billion loan provided to the United States Postal Service (USPS) under the CARES Act into direct funding.
— PRESIDENT TRUMP LIKELY TO VETO NDAA. President Trump is likely to veto the NDAA this week, following through on a veto threat he issued earlier this month. He has until December 23rd to veto the bill. Otherwise, it would become law without a signature. The NDAA passed both chambers with veto-proof margins, and Congressional leadership appears confident that they will be able to override a veto. This means that the 116th Congress will need to return in sufficient numbers to override the veto, and the vote will likely take place on January 2 or the morning of January 3 before the 117th Congress is sworn in.
- State and Local Governments. The bill would extend the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) through Dec. 31, 2021.
Washington Insider: What We're Reading
Congressional leaders on Sunday reached a mammoth deal to fund the government and provide long-sought coronavirus relief as lawmakers race to wrap up their work for the year. The deal will tie a $1.4 trillion bill to fund the government until Oct. 1 to roughly $900 billion in coronavirus aid. In order to give Congress time to process and pass the agreement, the House and Senate passed a one-day stopgap bill on Sunday.
Lawmakers are primed to make excise tax cuts for some 20,000 small brewers, wineries and distilleries permanent in an emerging year-end tax package being grafted onto an omnibus spending bill, according to sources familiar with the tax package who spoke on condition of anonymity. These small businesses, located in every state and almost every congressional district, waged an intensive lobbying campaign to protect tax breaks that were estimated to cost the Treasury $950 million for a one-year extension that expires Dec. 31.
An expert panel that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Sunday that adults aged 75 and older, as well as frontline essential workers, be designated as the second priority group to be vaccinated against Covid-19. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also voted to recommend that the third stage of the national vaccination program should focus on adults 65 to 74, people 16 to 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not included in the second phase of vaccination.
The effects of climate change were already apparent in 2016 when Donald Trump, then president-elect, introduced his team of nominees to lead energy and environmental policies and help "unleash" American fossil energy industries. Now, four years and more than a hundred rollbacks of energy, transportation and environmental rules later, an even warmer planet spawning evermore devastating hurricanes and record-setting wildfires awaits President-elect Joe Biden's team.
COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers
— FDA AUTHORIZES EMERGENCY USE OF SECOND COVID-19 VACCINE. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older — the second vaccine to earn authorization by the federal government.
— CRS PUBLISHES REPORT ON EXPIRING PANDEMIC PROGRAMS. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published a comprehensive report listing the pandemic-related programs that are due to expire at the end of the year.
— CDC ADVISORY PANEL RECOMMENDS SECOND COVID-19 PRIORITY GROUP. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) recommended that adults 75 and older and frontline essential workers be designated as the second priority group to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. These groups follow health care workers and long-term care facility residents.
— FDA AUTHORIZES EMERGENCY USE FOR AT-HOME COVID-19 TEST. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test, which is authorized for use by patients at home with a prescription.
— HHS ANNOUNCES NEW PROVIDER RELIEF FUNDING TRANCHE. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it will distribute $24.5 billion in "Phase 3" Provider Relief Funding to more than 70,000 providers.
— FDA APPROVES FIRST AT-HOME COVID-19 TEST FOR EMERGENCY USE. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for the first over-the-counter (OTC) at-home diagnostic test for COVID-19.
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