By Cong. Michael T. McCaul
Texas Insider Report: WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, Congress passed a year-end spending relief package, or omnibus. This piece of legislation included much-needed COVID relief funding for small businesses and American workers and legislative measures to ensure the safety and well-being of Americans across the U.S.
Also, an included was an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for American businesses and deductibility for related PPP expenses.
According to a report released this summer, more than 220,000 jobs in TX-10 were saved because this program.
Below are highlights for what is included in the omnibus.
“What’s in the bill?”
COVID-19 relief programs
- An extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for American businesses and adding deductibility for related PPP expenses. According to a report released this summer, more than 220,000 jobs in TX-10 were saved because this program.
- Stimulus checks of up to $600 for adults and their dependents.
- An extension of enhanced unemployment benefits – an additional $300 per week for up to 10 weeks – for those who are out of work because of the pandemic.
- $20 billion for the purchase of additional vaccines so they can continue to be free for all Americans, and $8.75 billion for distribution assistance.
- $25 billion in temporary rental assistance for individuals who have been impacted by the pandemic, as well as an extension of the eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021.
- $92 billion for schools and childcare centers to assist with safely reopening.
- $13 billion to support our farmers and agriculture sector.
With many Americans working from home, rural broadband has become increasingly more important. This is why I advocated for an increase in funding for rural broadband. Congress will be appropriating $732 million for our underserved and rural areas. This includes important programs like ReConnect, which helps unserved and underserved areas. This funding will also improve Telemedicine capabilities and distance learning.
Assistance for our nation’s veterans and troops
With over a million veterans living in the state of Texas, I am glad to see substantial funding for programs that prioritize the mental health of our troops and the services that are provided to them. Nearly $10 billion was appropriated for mental health programs and suicide prevention. In addition, all military personnel will receive a three percent pay raise, and Congress will appropriate $34 billion to health programs that support our troops.
Addressing food insecurity through the SNAP program
Recent coverage on food insecurity stated that nearly 1 in 4 Texas families are experiencing food insecurity. The COVID-19 pandemic has economically impacted many Texans, making them more reliant on food assistance programs. The omnibus will ensure the SNAP program benefits are going to those who need them most.
Combating drug trafficking and abuse
Health officials have found that overdose drug related deaths have significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. This omnibus directly addresses this issue by providing $541 million in grant programs that support drug courts, prescription drugs, and at-risk youth programs. The funding will also help law enforcement combat the illicit flow of drugs into our country.
Securing our pharmaceutical supply chain
COVID-19 has exposed why it is critical that the U.S. maintain a secure pharmaceutical supply chain. With the passage of the omnibus, we will have improved drug inspections of medicines we import from China and India.
Combating Childhood Cancer
As the Founder and Co-Chairman of the Childhood Cancer Caucus, I have seen first-hand the devastating impact childhood cancer can cause both here in the United States and abroad. That’s why I’m so pleased the Creating Hope Reauthorization Act, a bill I strongly advocated for, and key components of my bill, the Global Hope Act, were both included in the omnibus. Both of these important pieces of legislation will help to create life-saving treatments for children in need and forge new global partnerships, saving thousands upon thousands of lives.
Additionally, this legislation includes over $6 billion for cancer research.