Late in the day on December 20, 2020, leaders in Congress announced that they had reached an agreement on a new round of relief for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic stimulus.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 finally took shape after several days of negotiations between the Democrats and GOP on Capital Hill. The passage of the bill, as well as the negotiations, were closely tied to passage of an omnibus appropriations bill for the federal government for the 2021 fiscal year.
Congress passed several short-term extensions of the appropriations bill to avoid a shutdown as the COVID-19 stimulus package was negotiated. The bill was approved in the House on December 21 by a vote of 327 to 85 and later passed in the Senate by a vote of 92-6. The President is expected to sign the bill into law.
The act includes several extensions of popular provisions of early COVID relief and stimulus acts passed in 2020. This includes additional loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) (including the allowance of a second round of loans for certain small businesses), relief for the hard-hit transportation industry, additional funding for programs related to vaccines and virus testing, and further expansion of federal unemployment assistance (providing $300 a week in unemployment payments, half of the amount received under the acts passed in the spring).
Highlights of Special Report:
- Second, but reduced, stimulus payment
- Extension of many earlier COVID-19 relief provisions
- Extenders included; new expirations vary