The massive year-end bill signed by President Donald Trump combines $ 900 billion in COVID-19 aid with a $ 1.4 trillion collective spending bill and countless other unfinished laws on tax, energy, education and health.
Highlights of the measure with total funding amounts and individual amounts for some, but not necessarily all, initiatives.
- Unemployment Insurance ($ 120 billion): Revitalizes additional federal pandemic unemployment benefits, but at $ 300 per week – through March 14 – instead of the $ 600 per week that expired in July. Extends special pandemic benefits for “gig” workers and extends the maximum duration of state-paid unemployment benefits to 50 weeks.
- Direct Payments ($ 166 billion): Offers $ 600 direct payments to individuals earning up to $ 75,000 per year; $ 1,200 for couples earning up to $ 150,000 per year – with payments phasing out for higher incomes – and $ 600 additional payments per dependent.
- Paycheck Protection Program ($ 284 billion): Invigorates the Paycheck Protection Program that provides qualifying companies with forgeable credit. Companies that have been particularly hard hit and receive PPP grants are eligible for a second round. Ensures that PPP subsidies are not taxed.
- Vaccines, Tests, Healthcare Providers ($ 69 Billion): Provides more than $ 30 billion in vaccine and treatment procurement, state distribution funds, and a strategic supply. Add to that $ 22 billion for testing, tracking and mitigation, $ 9 billion for health care providers, and $ 4.5 billion for mental health.
- Schools and Universities ($ 82 billion): Delivers $ 54 billion to K-12 public schools hit by the pandemic and $ 23 billion to colleges and universities; $ 4 billion would be awarded to a Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund; nearly $ 1 billion for Indian schools.
- Rental Assistance ($ 25 billion): Provides money for a first government rent assistance program; Funds distributed by state and local governments to help people who are behind on their rent and who may face eviction.
- Food / Agriculture Aid ($ 26 billion): Increases stamping benefits by 15% for six months and provides funding for chalkboards, meals on wheels, and other food aid. Provides an equal amount ($ 13 billion) to farmers and ranchers.
- Childcare ($ 10 billion): Contributes $ 10 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant to help families with childcare costs and to help providers meet increased operational costs.
- Postal Service ($ 10 billion): Makes a $ 10 billion loan to the Postal Service that was provided for in previous relief laws.
Fundraising Fund ($ 1.4 trillion)
The collective measure combines 12 expenditure bills into one and finances the operating budgets of the agencies until September 30 of the next year. It combines democratic priorities like increasing the existing budget limits for domestic programs by 12.5 billion. COVID-19 has contributed to significantly lower costs. Republicans supported continued defense spending, energy supplies and a long-standing ban on government funding for abortion. The move also provides President Donald Trump with a final installment of $ 1.4 billion for a wall on the US-Mexico border.
The measure also contains more than 3,000 pages with various pieces of legislation, such as:
- Surprising medical bill: Includes bipartisan legislation to protect consumers from huge surprise medical bills after receiving treatment from outside providers.
- Community health centers: Authorizes community health center funding for three years and extends a variety of expiring health policies, including reimbursement rates for various health care providers and Medicare and Medicaid procedures
- Tax supplements: Extends a variety of expiring tax breaks, including lower excise duties for craft brewers and distillers. Renewable energies would extend tax breaks as well as motorsport facilities and donations for charity. Business meals would be 100% deductible by 2022 and prime health care costs would be deductible once they reached 7.5% of income. It would also extend favorable tax treatment for “look-through” businesses of offshore subsidiaries of US corporations.
- Water projects: Includes nearly 400-page water resources bill that allocates $ 10 billion to Army Corps of Engineers’ flood, environmental, and coastal protection projects.
- Clean energy: Promotes “clean energy” programs such as research and development, efficiency incentives and tax breaks. No “super polluters” partially halogenated chlorofluorocarbons.
- Education: Includes a bipartisan agreement to provide approximately $ 1.3 billion in federal loans to historically black colleges and universities and to simplify forms of financial support for colleges. Increases Pell maximum grant for low-income college students by $ 150 to $ 6,495. Offers incarcerated prisoners “second chance” Pell Grants.
- Horse racing “doping”: Adds bipartisan laws by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., To create national drug and safety standards for the horse racing industry while lawmakers restrict the use of performance-enhancing drugs that can lead to horse injuries and death.
- New Smithsonian Museums: Founded the Women’s History Museum and the National Museum of the American Latino as new Smithsonian museums near the National Mall.
- Pipeline security: Wrinkles in pipeline safety legislation, re-approved operating grants and safety standards for oil and gas pipelines.
- Aircraft security: Adds legislation to strengthen Federal Aviation Administration’s aircraft certification process following Boeing 737 MAX crash scandal. Addresses human factors, cockpit automation, and international pilot training, and authorizes nearly $ 275 million to enforce the legislation over the next five years.
- Intelligence programs: Re-authorization of intelligence programs for 2021.