Young Votes to Pass Year-End Coronavirus Relief and Government Funding Package
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) voted in favor of H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, a comprehensive year-end bill that includes coronavirus relief and funding for the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021. The legislative package passed the Senate on a 92-6 vote and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“Struggling Hoosier businesses, communities, frontline workers, and families have waited too long for this critically needed coronavirus relief package. While I wish we had reached agreement months ago, I’m glad this aid will finally be delivered to the American people, particularly to ensure the safe and efficient distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines that will be essential for overcoming this pandemic,” said Senator Young. “This package provides assistance to essential workers, small businesses, and unemployed Americans, and provides additional resources for testing and vaccinations. It also funds the federal government, one of Congress’ main responsibilities, and contains several of my priorities to bolster Indiana’s health and economic security.”
The bill rescinds $429 billion in unused CARES Act funds to help pay for the additional coronavirus relief measures. In addition to coronavirus relief and all 12 appropriations bills, it also includes a three-year extension for miscellaneous expiring health programs and extensions of varying lengths for expiring tax provisions, reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, and the Energy Act of 2020.
Coronavirus relief highlights include:
- $325 billion for small business relief, including $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Loans and enhanced relief for hard-hit industries like restaurants and venues.
- PPP Second Draw incorporates a number of tenets from Senator Young’s RESTART Act, including expansion of the number of allowable and forgivable costs to provide businesses with more flexibility and a requirement that businesses demonstrate need by meeting a 25 percent or more revenue decline test.
- Clarifies Congressional intent that business expenses paid using forgiven PPP funds are tax deductible, avoiding a significant unexpected burden on already struggling small businesses.
- Senator Young is a cosponsor of S., 3612, Small Business Expense Protection Act, and advocated for this clarification.
- $25 billion for rental assistance for struggling renters and a one month extension of the CDC eviction moratorium.
- Extends Federal Pandemic Unemployment Insurance benefit of $300/week through March 14, 2021.
- Direct payment of $600 to individuals and qualified child dependents (up to $2,400 for a family of four).
- $10 billion for child care, including direct support for child care providers for fixed costs and operation expenses, to help ensure working parents have access to child care so they can work or return to work.
- Senator Young cosponsored S. 4221, the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act and signed a letter requesting support for child care in COVID-19 relief.
- $29 billion for vaccine development and distribution.
- $22 billion for COVID-19 testing and related activities by states.
- $3 billion for the health care Provider Relief Fund.
- $250 million in funding for the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
- $82 billion for education, including $54.3 billion for K-12 schools and $22.7 billion for higher education.
- Nearly $11.2 billion for COVID-related agriculture assistance, specifically allowing the Secretary to make payments to producers for losses incurred from depopulation of livestock and poultry due to processing disruptions.
- Senator Young cosponsored S. 4156, RELIEF for Producers Act.
- $45 billion for transportation assistance related to COVID-19 impacts.
- Includes $16 billion to extend the Aviation Workers Payroll Support Program which Senator Young has advocated for since August.
- Extends and enhances the Employee Retention Tax Credit through June 30, 2021.
- 12-month extension of the deadline to expend state and local funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to allow more flexibility to stretch out already obligated CARES funds.
Other Young-led priorities in the bill:
Water Resources Development Act Reauthorization: Important reauthorization for Indiana’s inland waterways and the Great Lakes, including improvements and funding of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund which is utilized for Great Lakes navigation projects. Senator Young is a cosponsor of S. 4654, the Great Lakes Navigation Act, which would accomplish similar goals.
Improvement to Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Rate: This package includes a key provision from Senator Young’s Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act to strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and improve life outcomes for Hoosiers. Estimates show that inclusion of the 4 percent credit stabilization provision will produce 130,000 housing units over the next ten years and generate 162,500 jobs. This key provision will further leverage the private sector to increase the stock of affordable housing for families in urban and rural communities and tackle the housing affordability crisis head on.
Permanent Extension of Craft Beverage Excise Tax Rates: The package permanently extends provisions from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that reduced certain excise tax rates on beer, wine, and distilled spirits in order to ease the burden on smaller breweries, distilleries, and vineyards. Senator Young cosponsored S. 362, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, and signed a letter to Senate leaders in support of making these rates permanent.
Extension of Student Loan Payment Incentive for Employers: Extends for five years the allowance for employers to provide student loan repayment benefits (up to $5,250 annually) to employees on a tax-free basis. Senator Young is a an original cosponsor of S. 460, the Employer Participation in Repayment Act.
Providing Relief to Medicare Providers: Senator Young helped to secure provisions that would partially alleviate Medicare reimbursement cuts to specialists and other providers. This includes a payment increase to all Medicare providers in the physician fee schedule for 2021 as many of these providers continue to be on the front line of the pandemic.
Providing Mental Health Services to Seniors Through Telehealth: Senator Young helped to secure a provision similar to his Mental and Behavioral Health Connectivity Act that allows Medicare beneficiaries to access mental health services via telehealth from the comfort of their homes.
Addressing Social Determinants of Health: Senator Young secured provisions of his legislation to empower states and local governments to improve health outcomes by addressing the economic and social conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play. The provision would help states and localities to develop innovative strategies to address social determinants in their communities.
Protecting Seniors from Medicare Late Enrollment Penalties: Senator Young secured a provision to simplify complex Medicare enrollment rules. Senator Young’s Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act eliminates needless gaps in health care coverage and helps prevent lifetime, late-enrollment penalties. The Medicare Home Health Flexibility Act, legislation that ensures our seniors are quickly and comprehensively assessed in their homes in order to receive proper home health treatment, was also secured by Senator Young.
Ending Surprise Medical Bills: Alongside members of the bipartisan Senate Working Group, Senator Young helped secure a provision to protect patients from surprise medical bills. Senator Young’s STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act protects families from financial strain by establishing a process that keeps patients out of these billing disputes and enables them to focus on their health rather than unexpected medical bills.
Addressing the High Cost of Prescription Drugs: Senator Young secured a provision to improve the accuracy of Medicare’s payments and protect beneficiaries and taxpayers from paying higher prescription drug prices. Senator Young’s Strengthening Average Sales Price Reporting Act of 2019 requires all manufacturers of drugs, biologicals, and biosimiliars paid under Medicare to report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services their average sales price information.
Expanding Coverage for Seniors’ Kidney Transplant Drugs: Senator Young worked to secure his legislation to provide seniors who received kidney transplants with extended Medicare Part B to help cover lifesaving medication. This would ensure that individuals who received a kidney transplant paid for by Medicare do not have to worry about coverage for medications to protect their transplant.
Higher Education Provisions: Senator Young supported multiple provisions included in the final bill, including FAFSA simplification, expansion of financial aid assistance to students in need, and restoration of Pell grants to the Second Chance population.
In the Appropriations divisions of the bill, Senator Young supported funding for the following items:
- Federal research into congenital heart defects, which are the most common and deadliest form of birth defects. This funding will help to further implement the screening surveillance, research, and awareness activities authorized by the Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act, of which Senator Young is a champion.
- KidneyX, a public-private partnership to accelerate innovation in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of kidney diseases.
- $173 million for FAA’s Contract Tower Program.
- $2 billion for DOT’s Capital Investment Grants.
- Increase of $50 million for the procurement of sonobuoys manufactured by Ultra Electronics – USSI in Columbia City, Indiana.
- Increase of $47 million for the procurement of Advanced Medium Mobile Power Sources (AMMPS) Generators manufactured by Cummins in Columbus, Indiana.
- Increase of $10 million for the Steel Performance Initiative supporting the work of Harrison Steel in Attica, Indiana.
- Increase of $8.2 million for Army research of electric transmissions in armored combat vehicles, which supports the innovative work being accomplished by Allison Transmission in Indianapolis.
- $330 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
- Funding for Adult Education State Grant Program for literacy, numeracy, and digital education programs for adults without high school degrees.
- $90 million in grants for construction of states’ veterans homes.
- $1.9 billion to support programs to reduce veteran homelessness, including:
o $420 million for Supportive Services for Veterans Families
o $270 million for Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program.
- Robust funding for maternal and child health and nutrition assistance.
Next Article Previous Article