While vaccinations are well underway and new CDC guidelines allow the masks to come off in certain settings, President Biden and Democrats in Congress continue to press ahead with big spending packages. New guidance on the American Rescue Plan enacted in March just came out from the Treasury Department, signaling counties, municipalities and nonprofits can be recipients of funds (see details below on eligible uses of funds). With that done, next on the agenda is pushing forward the infrastructure bill in the form of the American Jobs Plans and the American Families Plan and gearing up for the markup of the 12 annual appropriations bills set to start late June/early July. Plus, Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) just introduced an Emergency Security Supplemental bill in response to the January 6th incident on Capitol Hill. Read more below.
Highlights of the funding included in the American Rescue Plan, which was enacted March 11, include:
To implement ARP or ARPA, the Administration unveiled details on how funds can be spent and accessed. On May 10, the U.S. Treasury announced the launch of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, established by the American Rescue Plan Act to provide $350 billion in emergency funding for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments. The funding is based on the share of the U.S. population and counties that are urban Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) recipients will receive the larger of the population-based share or the share under a modified CDBG allocation formula. Examples include $239,898,257 for Cuyahoga County to $511,721,590 for Cleveland and $255,764,417 for Franklin County and $187,030,138 for Columbus.
Treasury also released details on how these funds can only be used to respond to acute pandemic response needs, fill revenue shortfalls among these governments to fill vital services and help retain jobs, and support the communities and populations hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis with immediate economic stabilization. Examples include direct COVID-19 health response, such as containment, testing, vaccination, mitigation, medical care and supplies, quarantine facilities, public health surveillance health communication and enforcement in hospitals, clinics, schools, and clinics. To help small businesses and tourism and travel industries facing financial challenges caused by the pandemic and needing to invest in COVID-19 prevention and mitigation tactics, recipients can execute a broad array of loan, grant, in-kind assistance, and counseling programs to enable faster rebounding from the downturn.
There is a broad range of uses to address the disproportionate public health and economic impacts of the crisis on the hardest-hit communities, populations, and households. This includes community health workers, community violence intervention programs, assistance for those experiencing homelessness and need access to affordable housing, navigation services for health, housing, counseling, and other needs, and educational supports in high-poverty school districts, and childcare.
Other examples of eligible uses in infrastructure include water management and remediation of lead hazards, sewer clean up, and broadband implementation in areas that are currently unserved or underserved—lacking a wireline connection that reliably delivers minimum speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. For the latter, recipients should build broadband infrastructure with modern technologies in mind, specifically offering reliable 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload speeds, unless impracticable. These allowances also include projects that address the impacts of climate change. Finally, while recipients can build their internal capacity to successfully implement economic relief programs, with investments in data analysis, targeted outreach, technology infrastructure, and impact evaluations, they cannot use funds for general economic development.
Accessing these funds occurs directly through the Treasury Submission Portal. Local governments should expect to receive funds in two tranches, with 50% provided beginning in May 2021 and the balance delivered 12 months later. However, states that have experienced a net increase in the unemployment rate of more than 2 percentage points from February 2020 to the latest available data as of the date of certification will receive their full allocation of funds in a single payment.
In March, President Biden unveiled his $2.6 trillion proposal in Pittsburgh as an investment to benefit communities of color, rural Americans and all Americans burdened by the need for infrastructure repair and modernization. Then on April 28, President Biden released his American Families Plan in this two-part proposal to help the nation's economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The plan is paid for with corporate tax hikes that move the corporate income tax rate to 28%, up from 21% that was cut during the Trump Administration and was previously as high as 35% as well as with an increase in the minimum tax on US corporations to 21% and a 15% minimum tax on income the largest corporations report to investors. Highlights include:
On May 14, Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a $1.9 billion funding bill, based on the recommendations of the Task Force 1-6 Capitol Security Review led by Lieutenant General (Retired) Russel L. Honoré and comprised of senior retired military leaders and law enforcement experts. It contains funding in the jurisdiction of six Appropriations Subcommittees: Legislative Branch; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Defense; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; and Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Some highlights of the legislation include:
The new Biden Administration has made its priorities clear in the American Rescue Plan, FY2022 Budget Proposal and American Jobs Plan. If you follow the money, the path becomes clear – domestic and global health, education, workforce, social safety net, housing, cyber security, broadband and technology access, R&D to advance innovation, economy and small business growth, infrastructure and Veterans are all prioritized. Some highlights are outlined below.
The American Rescue Plan Act, also known as the COVID-19 Stimulus Package or just ARPA totals $1.9 trillion and funds key COVID response efforts, highlights of which include:
On April 9, President Biden unveiled key principles and priorities for his $1.5 trillion FY2022 budget that he will release in May. The Office of Management and Budget instructed in sharing the budget with Congress that now is the time to not simply revert to pre-pandemic life, but to instigate change that finally addresses racial and health disparities, economic barriers to growth for individuals, businesses and communities, and infrastructure problems facing every part of the country. Again, the priorities center around COVID-19 response and infrastructure building for any public health emergency as well as systemic change to address problems that have lingered for years impacting health, education, workforce and economic growth. It includes the largest investment in environmental justice in history with new Accelerating Environmental and Economic Justice initiative at the EPA. Also, while the Department of Defense would receive a small increase, it would redirect significant funds toward research and development. That same drive for innovation is placed within a new agency he is launching out of the Office of Science Technology Policy and NIH called ARPA-H to fund R&D to drive transformational health innovations that tackle gaps far too long neglected in our system and implement health breakthroughs with initial emphasis placed on cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Some other highlights include:
Domestic Budget – $769 billion (16% increase from FY2021)
Defense Budget – $753 billion (1.7% increase from FY2021)
White House officials said in May, the government is releasing to states and territories an initial $240 million out of $1 billion allocated to expand genomic sequencing. Another $400 million will go to launch the six research partnerships with academic institutions, dubbed Centers of Excellence in Genomic Epidemiology. Finally, $300 million will go to set up the data sharing system, which is being called the National Bioinformatics Infrastructure.
The American Jobs Plan that President Biden is proposing is moving through Congress with both chambers aiming for summer passage. It would provide $115 billion to modernize the bridges, highways, roads, and main streets that are in most critical need of repair—modernizing 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main-streets. It would fix the ten most economically significant bridges in the country in need of reconstruction; repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges; provide $85 billion to modernize existing transit by replacing thousands of buses and rail cars and upgrading their stations; allocate $80 billion to Amtrak’s repair backlog; invest $174 billion into electric vehicles market; and $25 billion for upgrading airports. His plan would also tackle clean water—replacing all lead pipes and service lines in our drinking water systems, and broadband—bringing affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to every American, including the more than 35% of rural Americans who lack access.
To further economic development efforts, President Biden's Jobs Plan includes a $5 billion investment in the remediation and redevelopment of these Brownfield and Superfund sites and $213 billion for housing to produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live. It also includes $35 billion to achieve technology breakthroughs that address the climate crisis (new ARPA-C effort) and position America as the global leader in clean energy technology and clean energy jobs; provides $10 billion R&D investment at HBCUs; invests $15 billion in creating up to 200 Centers of Excellence that serve as research incubators at HBCUs; directs $50 billion to create a new office at the Department of Commerce dedicated to monitoring domestic industrial capacity and funding investments to support production of critical goods; and provides $50 billion for semiconductor manufacturing and research.
For children and families, it invests $100 billion to upgrade and build new public schools with $50 billion in direct grants and $50 billion leveraged through bonds; provides $25 billion to help upgrade child care facilities; and directs $400 billion toward expanding access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care (HCBS) for aging relatives and people with disabilities