FIRST LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE TO COVID-19: A $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus spending package was enacted into law on March 6. Maine has received $4.6 million dollars in CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness funds through this funding bill. Grantees will be eligible to apply for further assistance from the remaining $350 million designated specifically for state and local funding. More info here.
SECOND LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE TO COVID-19 (Families First): On March 14, H.R. 6201 The Families First Coronavirus Response Act overwhelmingly passed the US House with bipartisan support. President Trump signed this bill into law on March 18. This coronavirus response legislation will make coronavirus testing free for most patients, secure paid emergency leave, enhance unemployment insurance, strengthen food security initiatives, and increase federal Medicaid funding to states. The text of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201, is here. A summary of H.R. 6201 is here.
THIRD LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE TO COVID-19 (CARES Act): On March 27, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, legislation to provide economic relief to workers and small businesses across our nation. The legislation includes, among other things:
INTERIM LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE TO COVID-19:
- A one-time cash payment of $1,200 for each individual adult earning up to $75,000 per year, with an additional $500 per child.
- Expanded unemployment insurance, including for part-time, self-employed, or gig economy workers.
- Forgivable loans for 8 weeks of payroll for employers with fewer than 500 employees, including a reduction in forgiveness if the company reduces employees or pay
- Requirement for private insurers and Medicare to cover coronavirus prevention and treatment
- Expanded healthcare access for veterans
- Funding to support hospitals and healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic
- Stabilization funds to support elementary and secondary school systems as well as higher education institutions, including support for the transition to remote learning and funds to support those with student loans
The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act expands COVID-19 testing and deliver billions in critical aid to health care providers and small businesses. In the bill, a bipartisan agreement was reached to provide $310 billion in additional funding for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which thousands of Maine businesses have utilized. It also contains several key provisions added at the insistence of House and Senate Democrats, including:
CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT:
- $25 billion to expand COVID-19 testing and a requirement that the Secretary of Health and Human Services submit to Congress a COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan no later than 21 days after enactment.
- $75 billion for hospitals and other health care providers to recoup losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and help them purchase desperately needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- $30 billion set-aside within PPP for small banks and credit unions and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), to ensure that financial institutions in Maine and other smaller states are not squeezed out by big banks.
- $60 billion to replenish the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and allow more $10,000 emergency grants for small businesses.
- Allowing small farmers to access the EIDL loan and grant programs.
In December of 2020, Congress passed H.R. 133
, an omnibus spending bill consisting of all 12 fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills, coronavirus relief, and additional authorizations. Highlights of the COVID-19 relief package include:
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN:
- An additional round of direct stimulus payments worth up to $600 per adult and child
- An additional 11 weeks of eligibility for unemployment insurance, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, and a $300/week federal supplement through March 14th, 2021.
- $15 billion in grants for independent live venue operators, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, and movie theaters.
- A second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans targeted toward smaller and harder-hit businesses.
- $73 billion to support public health initiatives.
- A 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through June 30, 2021 and additional funding and flexibility in other anti-hunger programs.
- $25 billion for emergency rental assistance and an extension of the CDC eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021.
- $7 billion in investments to increase access to broadband, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help millions of students, families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic, $300 million for rural broadband, and $250 million for telehealth.
- An extended deadline to for state and local governments to spendCRF allocationsfrom the CARES Act through December 31, 2021.
- $200 million for timber harvesters and haulers in line with the Loggers Relief Act, of which Pingree is a cosponsor
- $60 million to support small meat and poultry processors and alleviate bottlenecks in the food supply chain in line with the RAMP-UP Act, of which Pingree is a cosponsor
In March 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan historic legislation that makes investments to crush the virus, create millions of jobs, provide direct relief to working families, and help schools safely open. Highlights of this legislation include:
- $46 billion for testing, $7.5 billion for vaccine distribution, $3.4 billion for mental health and substance use care, funding to support providers serving rural and underserved areas.
- $1.652 billion to Maine’s state and local governments to support strained budgets and prevent cuts to services. These funds include Maine’s allocation from a $10 billion Capital Projects Fund, which supports infrastructure like broadband.
- $1,400 stimulus checks
- $40 billion in Child Care Childcare Stabilization Grants to help providers nationwide keep their doors open and support families struggling to afford care.
- Provides an additional $300 in weekly unemployment benefits from the federal government through September 6, 2021, supporting an estimated 50,000 Mainers. Exempts the first $10,200 of supplemental benefits from federal income taxes for those earning up to $150,000.
- Expands the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per child up to age 17 and $3,600 for children under age 6 for 2021. The bill also allows families to claim up to half of their related child care expenses and enhances the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-income people without children.
- More than $27 billion in rental assistance and $10 billion for homeowner assistance so people can stay in their homes.
- Increases premium tax credits to lower the cost of health plans available on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.
- $3 billion to help the economy recover from COVID-19 and build resilience for future crises, with a 25% set-aside for industries hard-hit by the pandemic like tourism, travel, hospitality.
- More than $4 billion to support food supply chain resilience, including support for seafood processors.
- Creates the first $25 billion pandemic relief fund specifically for struggling restaurants and bars.