legislative udpate

Insights & Analysis

Last updated on:
May 17, 2021

OVERVIEW

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.

BUDGET

American Rescue Plan Act Implementation – Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds

Highlights of the funding included in the American Rescue Plan, which was enacted March 11, include:

  • $362 billion – State and local fiscal recovery, includes $100 million per state with U.S. territories and tribal governments each having their own allotment of $100 million to be split among them, for critical capital projects directly enabling work, education and health monitoring in response to COVID-19
  • $656.18 billion – Direct financial assistance to individuals, households and small businesses
  • $56.27 billion – Assistance to individuals and families
  • $211.57 billion – Education and childcare
  • $86.24 billion – Health
  • $40.16 billion – Transportation
  • $61.32 billion – Other programs, e.g., disaster relief, emergency food and shelter, firefighter assistance, emergency response staffing, emergency management performance grants, economic assistance programs, environmental justice grants, air pollution grants, emergency connectivity fund for schools and libraries, National Endowment for the Arts

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.

Eligible Uses

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.

Infrastructure – American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan

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:

American Jobs Plan - $2.9 trillion
  • $621 billion – Transportation: roads, bridges, public transit, rail, ports, waterways, airports and electric vehicles in service of improving air quality, reducing congestion and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. This includes $115 billion to modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads and main streets; $20 billion to improve road safety for all users; and fix the "most economically significant large bridges" and repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges. Another $80 billion would go to address Amtrak's repair backlog and modernization and $25 billion to airports and $17 billion to inland waterways, ports and ferries. Finally, this proposal funds electric vehicles with a $174 billion investment, giving consumers rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made electric vehicles and establishing grant and incentive programs to build a national network of 500,000 charging stations by 2030, and would also replace 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrify at least 20% of yellow school buses.
  • $400 billion – Homecare for aging and disabled Americans and access to long-term care services under Medicaid
  • $300 billion – Manufacturing: $50 billion for semiconductor manufacturing, $30 billion for medical manufacturing, $20 billion for regional innovation hubs that would support community-led projects, and $46 billion for federal purchases of electric cars, charging ports, and electric heat pumps for housing and commercial buildings that would boost the clean energy industry (related, Biden signed an executive order to boost American manufacturing by changing the rules regarding federal spending on American-made goods, equipment, vehicles and materials for infrastructure projects with a 180-day deadline that comes up in July)
  • $213 billion – Housing: building, renovating and retrofitting more than two million homes and housing units, plus build and rehabilitate more than 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income homebuyers
  • $180 billion – R&D to advance US leadership in critical technologies, upgrade our research infrastructure and establish America as a leader in climate science, innovation and research and development
  • $100 billion – Schools: to build new public schools and upgrade existing buildings with better ventilation systems, updated technology labs, and improved school kitchens that can prepare more nutritious meals, plus $12 billion would go to states to use towards infrastructure needs at community colleges
  • $100 billion – Digital infrastructure: to give every American access to affordable, reliable and high-speed broadband
  • $100 billion – Workforce development
  • $18 billion – Veterans’ hospitals modernization
American Families Plan - $1.8 trillion
  • $200 billion – Universal, high quality preschool to all 3- and 4-year olds
  • $109 billion – Two years of free community college to all Americans, including DREAMers
  • $62 billion – Help make college more affordable for low- and middle-income students, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • $2.8 billion – Teachers: for Grow Your Own programs and year-long, paid teacher residency programs and to double scholarships for future teachers from $4,000 to $8,000 per year while earning their degree
  • $25 billion – Nutrition: for Summer Pandemic-EBT to make the successful program permanent, plus $1 billion for healthy foods incentive demonstration to support schools that are further expanding healthy food offerings
  • Paid leave and childcare assistance and unemployment insurance reform
  • Tax cuts for lower- and middle-income workers and families, including Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, plus expanded health insurance tax credits

Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act

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:

  • $631.6 million – Reimbursing the National Guard, DC and Capitol Police for their response and subsequent presence at the Capitol, including equipment replacement, and wellness and trauma support
  • $39.5 million – Prosecuting the hundreds of perpetrators who attacked law enforcement and defiled the Capitol Complex
  • $529.7 million – Improving security by hardening windows and doors, constructing security screening vestibules, and installing new cameras
  • $200 million – Creating a dedicated Quick Reaction Force to augment the Capitol Police in cases of emergency
  • $130.6 million – Reimbursing Architect of Capitol and House of Representatives for enhanced cleaning, personal protective equipment, telework equipment, emergency supplies and essential overtime pay
  • $21.5 million – Enhancing security and threat assessments for Members of Congress via the House Sergeant-at-Arms that includes centralized coordination of Member Security while traveling and the installation of basic security and camera system in district offices
  • $18 million – Bolstering Capitol Police security with body cameras, specialized training and riot control equipment
  • $5 million – Requiring General Services Administration (GAO) security assessments
Last updated on:
April 22, 2021

Government Funding and Policy Priorities for 2021

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.

American Rescue Plan – Enacted March 11, 2021

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:

Agriculture and Nutrition:

  • 15% increase for supplemental nutrition benefits called SNAP and technology modernization for the WIC program serving women and babies, as 50 million Americans have struggled to feed their families during the pandemic
  • $4 billion to support the food supply chain and farmers, including funding to monitor COVID-19 in animals
  • Rural healthcare vaccine distribution, PPE supplies, telehealth and other services

Health, Education and Labor:

  • $7.5 billion for vaccine distribution
  • $5.2 billion for BARDA vaccine and supplies
  • $48.2 billion for testing
  • $1.733 billion for enhanced genomic sequencing
  • $7.6 billion for community health centers
  • $7.66 billion to bolster the public health workforce with 23% leaving state and local health departments since 2008 and one-fourth across the country being eligible for retirement now
  • $125 billion for public K-12 schools to safely reopen with $122.747 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund (ESSER), 90% of which states must subgrant to school districts to implement public health protocols and address students’ learning loss with 1% required to pay for evidence-based afterschool and summer programming
  • $39.6 billion to colleges and universities as some 650,000 institution jobs were lost since the pandemic started
  • $39 billion for child care, including $24 billion for Child Care Stabilization grants for some 449,000 child care providers serving 7.3 million children and $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)
  • Funding is provided to address family violence, LIHEAP and water assistance, and to help museums, libraries and cultural organizations forced to shut down most of 2020
  • Option to states to provide 1-year of post-partum Medicaid coverage, following IL’s waiver

Housing:

  • $25 billion in emergency rental assistance
  • $5 billion in housing vouchers for high-speed transition out of homelessness
  • $5 billion to help communities provide services to address homelessness
  • $100 million for rural rental assistance
  • $9.961 billion in funding for the 3.3 million homeowners behind on payments or in foreclosure

Economic Development & Small Business:

  • $10 billion to states to set up program to leverage private capital for low-interest loans through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program
  • $15 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for underserved and very small businesses, which include over 90% minority-owned businesses
  • $28.6 billion for restaurants and $1.25 billion for Shuttered Venue Operations grants
  • $7 billion to expand eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to cover 501(c)5s plus $250 million to expand eligibility for digital news services
  • $175 million for new Community Navigators that help connect businesses to key resources to recover, reopen, grow and succeed
  • $3 billion to aid in rebuilding local economies and help the Economic Development Administration carry out the National Disaster Response Framework in economic recovery
  • $350 billion to states, territories and local governments plus $10 billion for infrastructure projects
  • More funding for Amtrak, airports, manufacturing and research relief
  • $1,400 direct payments and unemployment coverage for individuals

Cyber & Broadband:

  • $2 billion to equip federal agencies with modern technology and cybersecurity
  • $7.17 billion to the FCC for broadband remote learning as 12 million K-12 students live in households without an internet connection or a device adequate for distance learning

Veterans:

  • Funding for vaccine distribution, mental health, enhanced telehealth and more
  • New program for retraining assistance for Veterans who lost their jobs due to COVID

President Biden’s FY2022 Budget Proposal – Skinny Version Released April 9, 2021, Full Budget to be Released in May

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)

Health:

  • $8.7 billion for the CDC – the largest increase in 20 years
  • $1.6 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant – twice the FY2021 level of funding
  • $51 billion for NIH, which includes $6.5 billion for the new ARPA-H initiative to fund R&D for accelerated translational innovation in health
  • $10.7 billion to address opioids -- $3.9 billion above FY2021

Economic Development and Infrastructure:

  • $150 million to create two new Manufacturing Innovation Institutes and doubles funding for the Manufacturing Extension Program to $275 million
  • $6.5 billion in lending to support additional clean energy storage and transmission projects in rural communities
  • $300 million in new investments in the next generation of agriculture and conservation
  • $10 billion for clean energy innovation across agencies – more than 35% increase over FY2021
  • $1 billion for ARPA-E and for new ARPA-Climate initiative
  • $70 million for economic development grants – $22 million above FY2021
  • $330 million to expand Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) – 22.2% increase over FY2021
  • $32 million for a renewed and expanded StrikeForce initiative targeting people in high poverty rural communities
  • $65 million increased funding for the Rural e-Connectivity Program “Reconnect” for rural broadband as an “economic equalizer”
  • $3.8 billion for the Community Development Block Grants – an increase of $295 million over FY2021
  • $3.6 billion for water infrastructure for community water systems, schools and households such as repairing 180,000 septic systems

Education:

  • $36.5 billion for Title I grants - $20 billion increase over FY2021
  • $1 billion to increase the number of counselors, nurses and mental health professionals in schools, plus $430 million for wrap-around services for students
  • $443 million for community schools providing comprehensive wrap-around services to students and their families – increased from $30 million in FY2021

Defense:

  • Ends Overseas Contingency Operations requests – an account used to escape budget caps in previous budgets
  • Prioritizes defense R&D to invest in breakthrough technologies for next-generation defense capabilities
  • Focuses on readiness and biological threat reduction, emerging infectious disease surveillance, and medical countermeasure research

Cyber:

  • $500 million for the Technology Modernization Fund
  • $110 million for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
  • $750 million for federal agency information technology enhancements

Veterans:

  • $97.5 billion to improve access to VA healthcare, including women’s health, mental health and Veterans’ homeless programs
  • $882 for medical and prosthetic research in TBIs, toxic exposure and needs of disabled Veterans

New National Bioinformatics Infrastructure:

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.

American Jobs Plan:

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