Details of 6000-page, $900 billion COVID-19 relief, wrap-up bills

Cover Image
Photo credit Michelle Chester, director of employee health services at Northwell Health, right, shows the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Arlene Ramirez, director of patient care at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream hospital, before administering the vaccine to her on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, in Valley Stream, N.Y. (Eduardo Munoz/Pool via AP)

The massive, year-end catchall bill Congress passed combines $900 billion in COVID-19 aid with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill and reams of other unfinished legislation on taxes, energy, education and health care. It awaits President Donald Trump's signature.

Highlights of the measure with overall funding amounts and specific amounts for some but not necessarily all initiatives.

COVID-19 RELIEF

Unemployment insurance ($120 billion). Revives supplemental federal pandemic unemployment benefits but at $300 per week — through March 14 — instead of the $600 per week benefit that expired in July. Extends special pandemic benefits for “gig” workers and extends the maximum period for state-paid jobless benefits to 50 weeks.

Direct payments ($166 billion). Provides $600 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 per year and couples making up to $150,000 per year — with payments phased out for higher incomes —- with $600 additional payments per dependent child.

Paycheck Protection Program ($284 billion). Revives the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to qualified businesses. Especially hard-hit businesses that received PPP grants would be eligible for a second round. Ensures that PPP subsidies are not taxed.

Vaccines, testing, health providers ($69 billion). Delivers more than $30 billion for procurement of vaccines and treatments, distribution funds for states, and a strategic stockpile. Adds $22 billion for testing, tracing and mitigation, $9 billion for health care providers, and $4.5 billion for mental health.

Schools and universities ($82 billion). Delivers $54 billion to public K-12 schools affected by the pandemic and $23 billion for colleges and universities; $4 billion would be awarded to a Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund; nearly $1 billion for Native American schools.

Rental assistance ($25 billion). Provides money for a first-ever federal rental assistance program; funds to be distributed by state and local governments to help people who have fallen behind on their rent and may be facing eviction.

Food/farm aid ($26 billion). Increases stamp benefits by 15% for six months and provides funding to food banks, Meals on Wheels and other food aid. Provides an equal amount ($13 billion) to farmers and ranchers.

Child Care ($10 billion). Provides $10 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant to help families with child care costs and help providers cover increased operating costs.

Postal Service ($10 billion). Forgives a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service provided in earlier relief legislation.

___

OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS ($1.4 TRILLION)

The omnibus measure wraps 12 spending bills into one and funds agency operating budgets through Sept. 30 of next year. It combines Democratic priorities such as a $12.5 billion increase over existing budget limits for domestic programs while cutting Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention and removal costs by $431 million. COVID-19 has contributed to sharply lower costs. Republicans supported sustained defense spending, energy provisions and longstanding bans on federal funding of abortion. The measure also provides President Donald Trump with a last, $1.4 billion installment for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

___

MISCELLANEOUS

The measure also contains