WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a member of the Senate Budget and Senate Banking committees, issued the following statement on Congress passing a year-end spending bill containing a targeted COVID-19 relief package:
“After months of inaction and Democratic obstruction, Congress came together to fund the government and provide targeted relief to the American people. This package contains several North Dakota priorities, furthers efforts related to the development and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, and extends a lifeline to our businesses and workers. While this is far from perfect, and there is more work to be done, I am glad an agreement was reached.”
The $900 billion targeted relief package contains new funds available for businesses and workers, direct payments for American families, and aid to ensure the successful development and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. Specifically, it includes:
- $166 billion for $600 direct checks to Americans making up to $75,000, with an additional $600 per child;
- An extension of the Coronavirus Relief Fund to allow states and tribes to spend allotted money until December 31, 2021.
- $264 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP);
- Streamlined forgiveness
- Expanded eligibility
- Deductibility for PPP expenses
- $120 billion for enhanced unemployment insurance of an additional $300 per week through March 14;
- $20 billion to purchase of vaccines, ensuring they will be free of charge for anyone who needs it;
- $45 billion for transportation, including $10 billion for highways;
- $15 billion in funding for entertainment venues, movie theaters, and museums experiencing significant revenue loss;
- $10 billion for grants to childcare centers to help providers safely reopen;
- $4 billion for substance abuse;
- significant progress made over past several years on opioid addiction has been reversed because of impact of COVID lockdowns
- $82 billion in funding for schools and universities to assist resuming with in-person learning;
- $25 billion in temporary and targeted rental assistance;
- $7 billion in broadband funding, including:
- $300 million to build out rural broadband, and
- $250 million for telehealth.
The $1.4 trillion year-end spending bill legislation is made up of Fiscal Year 2021 measures offered by the Appropriations Subcommittees, which deliver:
- $695 billion for Defense;
- $113 billion for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies;
- $51 billion for Homeland Security;
- $23 billion for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies;
- $71 billion for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies;
- $174 billion for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies;
- $49 billion for Energy and Water Development;
- $36 billion for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies;
- $74 billion for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies; and
- $55 billion for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
Learn more here.
Senator Cramer successfully fought to include several specific provisions in this spending package, such as:
- $1.45 billion for the replacement of our aging intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fleet.
- $344 million to buy 16 MQ-9 Reaper drones.
- Full funding for the MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopter that will protect the nuclear missile fields.
- A provision prohibiting funds for the retirement or divestiture of the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 and Block 40 aircraft.
- $169 million for RQ-4 Contract Logistic Support (CLS) to continue operating the RQ-4.
- The establishment of a national program to prioritize the domestic deposits and production of critical minerals while reducing dependence on China.
Health Care and Education
- Legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills and establish a fair framework to resolve payment disputes between health care providers and health insurance companies
- Three-year extension of the Special Diabetes Program, which provides funding for research on Type 1 Diabetes.
- Medicare Sequester Relief, extending critical relief for providers from the scheduled 2 percent Medicare sequester cuts until March 31, 2021.
- Legislation to restore the ability for incarcerated individuals to access Pell grants to reduce recidivism upon release.
- Additional funding and reporting flexibilities for hospitals under the Provider Relief Fund (PRF).
- A technical correction to allow the state of North Dakota to access more than $3.7 million of Community Service Block Grant money.
- $11.2 billion to USDA to support agricultural producers and processors.
- A provision directing the Secretary of Agriculture to provide additional assistance to producers of specialty crops, livestock and dairy that had payments under Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 1 and 2 reduced by arbitrary payment caps, which left significant losses uncovered by the original programs.
- Applies income derived from agricultural sales, agricultural services, the sale of agricultural real estate and prior year net operating loss carryforwards to farm income for certain programs.
- WHIP+ funding to ensure the remaining WHIP+ applications are paid in their entirety.
- A one-year extension of livestock mandatory reporting.
- The SALE Act, which establishes livestock statutory dealer trust protections for owners of unpaid livestock in the event of a dealer default.
- $60 million to help state inspected processing facilities meet federal inspection requirements.
- $2 million for USDA to perform a study on the effectiveness of federal loan and grant programs to assist the meat processing industry.
- $3.2 billion to reimburse providers for reduced charges and fees during the pandemic.
- The Connecting Minority Communities Act, which codifies the existing Minority Broadband Initiative (MBI) at NTIA in a new Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives and dedicates $285 million to help their minority communities pay for broadband service, obtain connectivity, or receive assistance from IT professionals.
- $65 billion to provide more granular broadband mapping under the Broadband DATA Act.
- $1.9 billion to remove and replace compromised infrastructure from Chinese companies currently in our telecommunications infrastructure.
- Extensions to CARES Act provisions which delay the required implementation date of Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Current Expected Credit Losses (CECL), and suspend the requirements related to accounting for a troubled debt restructuring (TDR), for financial institutions and insurance companies.
- Extensions of the four amendments to Subchapter III of the Federal Credit Union Act designed to help credit unions respond to the demands placed on their members during COVID. These include:
- Increasing the Credit Liquidity Facility’s (CLF) maximum legal borrowing authority;
- Permitting temporary access for corporate credit unions, as agent members, to borrow for their own needs;
- Providing greater flexibility and affordability to agent members to join and serve smaller groups of their covered institutions than their entire memberships; and
- Providing the National Credit Union Association’s (NCUA) board with more clarity and flexibility regarding the loans it can approve by removing the phrase, “the Board shall not approve an application for credit the intent of which is to expand credit union portfolios.”