The Senate passed 96-0 on March 25 a mammoth $2 trillion rescue package designed to blunt the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. House leaders say they hope to have their chamber clear the bill, H.R. 748 (116), by voice vote on March 27.
Senate leaders announced in the early morning of March 25 that they had reached agreement with House lawmakers and President Donald Trump on the package, which would deliver emergency aid to nearly every sector across the U.S., including $1,200 checks to many Americans, $61 billion for airlines and $100 billion for hospitals.
The package — the largest of its kind in U.S. history — came together after five days of tense negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It includes a dramatic expansion of unemployment insurance, a rescue fund for state and local governments, immediate cash for hospitals and a huge pool of grants and loans for small businesses.
The legislation is Congress’ third major bill in response to the crisis, which has brought the U.S. economy to a standstill, and will not be the last.
WHAT’S IN THE BILL?
This Pro Bill Analysis reflects the text as unveiled by Senate leaders late on March 25.
Keeping Workers Paid and Employed, Health Care System Enhancements and Economic Stabilization (Division A)
The Senate HELP Committee released a one-page summary, as well as a section-by-section summary of the division, on March 25. Senate leaders made a few additional tweaks to the text after the panel released the summary.
Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act (Title I): This title would aim to extend cash flow for small businesses that maintain their payroll during the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus by creating a Paycheck Protection Program to provide 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers with fewer than 500 employees, or the applicable size standard for the industry as provided by the Small Business Administration if higher.
The language expands on provisions included in Division A of the Senate GOP’s initial proposal for the package, S. 3548 (116). Senate Small Business Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) unveiled a press release on those provisions, as well as a one-page summary and a section-by-section summary, on March 19.
The legislation would provide $349 billion to expand the SBA’s existing 7(a) loan program to cover payroll support, such as salaries and paid sick leave, through June 30, 2020. The language is retroactive to Feb. 15 to allow employers who have already laid off employees to bring them back onto payroll.
Under the expansion, employers, nonprofits, veterans organizations and tribal businesses would be eligible to receive loans up to $10 million through SBA-certified lenders, like banks, to supplement payroll, mortgage, debt and other expenses associated with continuing to pay their employees’ salaries.
The portion of the loan used to cover preexisting debt, payroll, rent and utilities would be forgiven as long as employees were retained from Feb. 15 through June 30, 2020. The amount forgiven would be reduced in proportion to any reduction in employees retained or in employee pay.
The title would also increase the cap on SBA Express loans from $350,000 to $1 million through Dec. 31.
The measure would also provide:
— $675 million to the SBA for salaries and expenses
— $25 million for SBA’s Office of Inspector General
— $240 million for small business development centers and women’s business centers; $25 million to associations representing resource partners to provide assistance, like counseling or training, to businesses affected by the coronavirus; and $10 million to the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency
— $10 billion to expand access to emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan grants to include tribal businesses, cooperatives and ESOPs with fewer than 500 employees, as well as any individual operating as a sole proprietor or independent contractor, from Jan. 31 to Dec. 31, 2020
— $17 billion for the SBA to pay subsidies on existing, non-Payment Protection Program loans for six months
— $25 million for Treasury Department salaries and expenses
— $100 billion for secondary market guarantee sales
The bill would also amend the Small Business Reorganization Act to increase for one year the eligibility threshold to file for bankruptcy from $2,725,625 of debt to $7,500,000 of debt. It would also exclude coronavirus-related payments from the government from counting as “income” when filing for bankruptcy.
Assistance for American Workers, Families and Businesses (Title II): This title is divided into three subtitles: unemployment insurance provisions (Subtitle A), rebates and other individual provisions (Subtitle B) and business provisions (Subtitle C). The Senate Finance Committee released a section-by-section summary of this title.
The unemployment insurance subtitle would temporarily build out unemployment insurance through Dec. 31 by:
— Creating a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to pay unemployment benefits to those not traditionally eligible for them, such as the self-employed, independent contractors and those with limited work history, who are unable to work as a result of the coronavirus
— Paying states to reimburse nonprofits, government agencies and Indian tribes for half of the costs they incur through Dec. 31 in paying unemployment benefits
— Providing an additional $600 each week to individuals receiving unemployment benefits for up to four months
— Paying states for the first week of unemployment benefits when they choose to pay recipients as soon as they become unemployed instead of waiting one week before the recipient is eligible
— Providing states with flexibility to hire temporary staff to process unemployment claims
— Providing an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through the end of 2020
— Providing $100 million in grants to states to establish “short-time compensation” programs, which the government would partially finance, where employers would reduce employee hours instead of laying off workers and the employees with reduced hours would receive a prorated unemployment benefit
— Waiving the seven-day waiting period and enhancing and extending benefits for railroad unemployment insurance to bring that program in line with the rest of the bill
— Appropriating $25 million to the Labor Department’s inspector general to oversee implementation of these provisions
The rebate subtitle would provide every non-dependent U.S. resident with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) with a $1,200 ($2,400 for couples) “rebate” payment. They would also be eligible for an additional $500 per child. The payments would start phasing out for earners above those income thresholds and would not go to single filers earning more than $99,000; head-of-household filers with one child, more than $146,500; and more than $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
The funds would be delivered electronically using the direct deposit information the IRS has on file since Jan. 1, 2018. The taxpayer would receive a notice by mail detailing when the rebate was issued and what method was used.
If the taxpayer has filed their 2019 tax return, the IRS will use that to calculate the amount of the check. If the taxpayer has not, the IRS will use the taxpayer’s 2018 return.
Because of the way the program is structured, very low-income Americans, e.g. those who do not pay taxes, may be hard to reach.
The legislation would also extend the tax filing deadline until July 15 and the deadline for estimated tax payments until Oct. 15. Among its other tax provisions, it would remove the 10 percent withdrawal penalty for distributions of up to $100,000 from qualifying retirement savings accounts for coronavirus-related purposes (a coronavirus diagnosis; a lapse in employment due to the coronavirus, etc.), and would waive required minimum distribution rules for certain retirement plans and accounts, a move intended to spare seniors from having to sell stock in a down market.
This subtitle would also, among other things:
— Allow Americans to deduct up to $300 of charitable donations, whether they itemize or not
— Enable employers to offer employees a tax-free student loan repayment benefit, by allowing employees to contribute up to $5,250 annually toward their student loans pre-tax
The business provisions subtitle would, among other things:
— Provide a refundable payroll tax credit for half of the wages paid by employers who were severely impacted during the pandemic, which would cover employee wages and be applied against the employer's share of payroll taxes. Because the legislation would also defer employer payroll tax payments, the bill would allow businesses to receive advance payments through the Treasury Department.
— Allow employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the 6.2 percent employer share of the Social Security tax for up to two years
— Temporarily increase the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns
— Allow restaurants, hotels and retail businesses to immediately write off new investment costs associated with improving facilities (rather than doing so over a 39-year period)
— Waive the federal excise tax on any distilled spirits used to make hand sanitizer
A March 26 report from the Joint Committee on Taxation showed that these and other tax provisions in the bill comprise almost $600 billion in tax cuts, and will cause an even steeper fall in tax receipts this year — a decline of $700 billion, roughly equivalent to a 20 percent reduction. They would fall another $254 billion next year, the nonpartisan agency said.
The longer-term cost of the tax provisions — $578 billion over the next decade — is lower because of breaks like one allowing companies to delay paying payroll taxes. JCT sees businesses using that provision to postpone paying $350 billion in payroll taxes over the next two years, with most of that paid back in subsequent years.
Supporting America’s health care system in the fight against the coronavirus (Title III): This title is divided into six subtitles: health provisions (Subtitle A); education provisions (Subtitle B); labor provisions (Subtitle C); Finance Committee (Subtitle D); Health and Human Services extenders (Subtitle E); and over-the-counter drugs (Subtitle F).
The health provisions subtitle has parts on addressing supply shortages (Part I); access to health care for Covid-19 patients (Part II); innovation (Part III); and the health care workforce (Part IV).
The supply shortage part would, among other things:
— Direct the National Academies to study the medical product supply chain and provide Congress with recommendations to strengthen it
— Clarify that the Strategic National Stockpile can stockpile medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment and the swabs necessary for diagnostic testing
— Provide permanent liability protection for manufacturers of personal protective equipment, such as masks and ventilators, during a public health emergency
— Require FDA to prioritize and expedite the review of drug applications and inspections to prevent or mitigate a drug shortage
— Require manufacturers to maintain contingency plans to ensure there is a back-up supply of products and require them to provide more information on drug volume or when there is an interruption in supply
— Require a medical device manufacturer to submit information about a device shortage or a device component shortage during a public health emergency
The health care access part would:
— Require health insurers to cover coronavirus testing with no cost-sharing and require them to pay either the rate specified in a contract between the provider and the insurer, or, if there is no contract, the price posted by the provider, including those tests without an emergency use authorization
— Require health insurers to cover a coronavirus vaccine without cost sharing within 15 business days of a favorable recommendation
— Provide $1.32 billion in supplemental funding to community health centers
— Reauthorize Health Resources and Services Administration grant programs that promote the use of telehealth technologies and strengthen rural community health services
— Establish a Ready Reserve Corps to ensure there are enough trained doctors and nurses to respond to the coronavirus outbreak
— Provide liability protections for health care professionals who provide volunteer medical services during the public health emergency
— Waive nutrition requirements for Older Americans Act meal programs during the public health emergency
— Require HHS to issue guidance within six months on patient record sharing during the public health emergency
— Reauthorize the Healthy Start program, which provides grants to improve access to services for women and their families
— Require an HHS initiative to raise awareness of the continued need for blood donations during the coronavirus pandemic
The innovation part includes provisions that would:
— Remove the cap on other transaction authority, or OTA, to allow the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to more easily partner with the private sector on research and development
— Provide breakthrough therapy designations for animal drugs that may be able to prevent human diseases
The health care workforce part would, among other things:
— Reauthorize and update Title VII of the Public Health Service Act, which concerns programs that support clinician training and faculty development
— Require HHS to create a comprehensive plan for health workforce programs
— Reauthorize and update Title VIII of the PHSA, which concerns nurse workforce training programs
The education subtitle would, among other education provisions:
— Waive the requirement that colleges match federal funds for campus-based aid programs and allow them to transfer unused work-study funds to other aid programs
— Authorize colleges to award emergency financial aid grants to assist undergraduate or graduate students with unexpected expenses as the result of a qualifying emergency
— Allow schools to pay work-study students for up to one academic year who are unable to fulfill their work-study obligation for all or part of the year due to a qualifying emergency
— Make various exceptions to loan and grant rules for students forced to drop out of school due to the coronavirus outbreak, including excluding the term from counting toward lifetime subsidized loan and Pell Grant eligibility limits
— Allow foreign colleges to offer distance education to U.S. students during the outbreak
— Grant the Education Department authority to waive non-civil rights statutory or regulatory provisions, such as requirements related to assessments, accountability, allocation of funds and reporting, if the secretary determines that such a waiver is necessary and appropriate due to the coronavirus emergency
— Require the Education Department to defer student loan payments, principal and interest through Sept. 30 without penalty to the student, as well as authorize the department to defer payments on HBCU Capital Financing loans
The labor subtitle includes various labor provisions, including language that would:
— Cap the amount an employer would pay for paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate for each employee
— Limit the amount an employer would pay for emergency paid sick leave under H.R. 6201 (116) to: $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for each employee who takes leave due to the employee’s own coronavirus illness; or $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for each employee who takes leave to care for another or who “is experiencing any other substantially similar condition”
— Require that states ensure that applications for unemployment compensation, and assistance with the application process, are accessible in person, by phone or online
— Grant the Office of Management and Budget authority to “exclude for good cause” executive branch employees from paid family and sick leave requirements
— Revise paid leave eligibility requirements for rehired employees
— Allow employers and self-employed individuals to take an advanced tax credit rather than receiving a refund later
— Authorize DOL to postpone certain ERISA filing deadlines for up to a year
— Provide single-employer pension plan companies with more time to meet their funding obligations by delaying the due date for any contribution otherwise due during 2020 until Jan. 1, 2021, at which point contributions would be due with interest
— Apply cooperative and small employer charity pension plan rules to certain charitable employers whose primary purpose is providing services to mothers and children
— Authorize agencies to use federal funds to reimburse federal contractors for the paid leave and paid sick leave of their employees who cannot work due to the coronavirus
Among the provisions in the Finance Committee subtitle is language that would:
— Allow high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts to cover telehealth services prior to a patient reaching their deductible
— Permit patients to use funds in HSAs and flexible spending accounts to purchase menstrual care products
— Expand access to telehealth services by, among other things, allowing rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers to furnish telehealth services and be reimbursed by Medicare
— Allow qualified providers to use telehealth technologies in order to fulfill the hospice face-to-face recertification requirement during the coronavirus
— Allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners and other professionals to order home health services for beneficiaries
— Temporarily suspend the Medicare sequester from May through December and extend the sunset date for the sequester from 2029 to 2030
— Increase by 20 percent the Medicare payment made to a hospital for treating an admitted coronavirus patient and prevent a scheduled decrease in payment amounts for durable medical equipment and in payment amounts for clinical diagnostic laboratory tests
— Provide acute care hospitals with flexibility to transfer patients out of their facilities and into alternative care settings during the coronavirus
— Enable beneficiaries to receive a coronavirus vaccine in Medicare Part B with no cost-sharing
— Require that Medicare Part D plans provide up to a 90-day supply of a prescription medication if requested during the coronavirus
— Allow state Medicaid programs to pay for home and community-based support professionals, including caregivers trained to assist with activities of daily living for disabled individuals, in the hospital
— Clarify a section of H.R. 6201 to ensure that uninsured individuals can receive a coronavirus test with no cost-sharing in any state Medicaid program
— Expand the Medicare hospital accelerated payment program
— Ensure states can access enhanced FMAP by delaying requirements for enhanced FMAP to enable state legislation necessary for compliance
The Health and Human Services extenders subtitle would extend funding for key health programs through Nov. 30, delaying a perceived deadline on "surprise" medical billing and drug pricing legislation until the lame-duck session.
The temporary extensions delay scheduled cuts to extra Medicaid payments for safety-net hospitals and fund community health centers bracing for a heavier patient load from the novel coronavirus.
Those and other smaller programs were previously scheduled to expire in mid-May, after Congress in December, via an omnibus spending agreement, H.R. 1865 (116), had agreed on a temporary extension. That was supposed to give lawmakers time to hammer out legislation to stop patients from receiving “surprise” bills for inadvertently seeking out-of-network care. The effort became an all-out industry war, with doctors and hospitals trying to tank the leading proposals last year.
The Medicare provisions include an extension of the work geographic index floor; funding for quality measure endorsement, input, and selection; and funding outreach and assistance for low-income programs.
The Medicaid extensions include the Money Follows the Person rebalancing demonstration program, spousal impoverishment protections, Community Mental Health Services demonstration program funding and a delay in the reduction in disproportionate share hospitals’ allotments.
Funding for the Sexual Risk Avoidance Education program, the Personal Responsibility Education program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program would be extended through Nov. 30, 2020, as would funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps and Teaching Health Centers, along with diabetes programs.
The over-the-counter drugs subtitle includes a long-awaited effort to reform the OTC drug industry. It would create industry user fees to increase FDA oversight of the nonprescription drug sector, which makes up about 60 percent of medicines sold in the U.S. It would be the first major reform to the OTC sector in roughly four decades.
The OTC provision has passed both the Senate and the House in various forms over the past two years, most recently in a December 91-2 Senate vote on S. 2740 (116).
Economic stabilization and assistance to severely distressed sectors of the U.S. economy (Title IV): Subtitle A would provide $500 billion to the Treasury Department’s Exchange Stabilization Fund for loans, loan guarantees and other investments to eligible businesses, states and municipalities related to losses incurred as a result of coronavirus in the following amounts:
— Up to $25 billion in direct lending for passenger air carriers and related businesses
— Up to $4 billion in direct lending for cargo air carriers
— Up to $17 billion in direct lending for “businesses critical to maintaining national security,” which The Washington Post reported was intended as a lifeline for Boeing
— Up to $454 billion to back emergency Federal Reserve lending programs for loans, loan guarantees and investments
The legislation would place conditions on direct loans, including requiring the Treasury secretary to determine that: credit is not reasonably available for the business at the time of the transaction; the interest rate is reasonable and the loan duration is as short as possible (and no more than five years); businesses may not engage in stock buybacks or pay dividends until at least one year after the loan, which cannot be forgiven, is repaid; and borrowers must be domiciled in the U.S., as well as “maintain … employment levels as of March 24, 2020, to the extent practicable” until the end of September without cutting employment levels by more than 10 percent from what they were on that date.
Utilizing the bill’s funding for Fed programs, Treasury would be directed to implement a direct loan program to assist nonprofits and mid-sized businesses with between 500 and 10,000 employees. No principal or interest on the loans would be due for at least six months.
Businesses that receive loans or loan guarantees could not provide certain executive salary increases, bonuses or large severance payments from the time of the loan until one year after it is paid off.
The fund would be subject to scrutiny via public reporting of transactions, as well as a new dedicated watchdog and an accountability committee.
The bill would create a Treasury Department special inspector general to scrutinize the Treasury loans and establish an oversight panel tasked with protecting taxpayer dollars. It would also require the Treasury secretary to publish on the Treasury Department website, within 72 hours of each loan transaction, information on the transaction, including terms of loans, investments or other assistance to corporations.
The bipartisan congressional oversight commission the bill would establish to examine decisions by Treasury and the Fed would consist of five members appointed by the GOP and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate.
In addition, the bill would prohibit the Treasury loans or investments from going to any business in which the president, vice president, members of Congress or heads of executive departments or their families own or control more than 20 percent of stock.
Banks would benefit from relaxed regulations and an expanded federal government backstop of their operations — measures that the industry has argued are important to keep credit flowing and shore up confidence in the banking system.
The bill would make it easier for small banks to qualify for streamlined capital requirements, which are rules that mandate how much money they need to backstop their operations. Banks would also get breathing room on rules governing how quickly they account for potential losses when issuing loans and for restructuring troubled debt.
In addition, the FDIC would regain authority it used in the 2008 crisis to guarantee bank accounts and bank debt beyond the $250,000 of deposit insurance it currently offers bank customers.
The Treasury Department would be temporarily allowed to guarantee money market mutual funds, whose customers include mom-and-pop investors and which act as important funding vehicles for large businesses and the U.S. government. The temporary waiver runs through Dec. 31, 2020. The measure would revive an authority Treasury last used during the 2008 Wall Street meltdown to stop runs on the funds.
The title also includes language on mortgage forbearance and eviction and credit protection. Anyone living in a single-family home with a federally backed mortgage could request forbearance on mortgage payments for up to one year. Owners of apartment buildings could also seek forbearance on federally backed mortgages, on the condition they cannot evict tenants or charge late fees on rent during the course of the forbearance period.
Among the title’s transportation provisions, the measure would authorize DOT for the next two years to require an air carrier receiving loans and loan guarantees to maintain scheduled air transportation service. It would also suspend taxes imposed on payments for air transportation and on the use of kerosene in commercial aviation from enactment until Jan. 1, 2021.
Subtitle B would provide $32 billion in financial assistance for aviation workers to “exclusively be used for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries and benefits,” broken down as follows:
— Up to $25 billion for passenger air carriers
— Up to $4 billion for cargo air carriers
— Up to $3 billion for aviation contractors
The Treasury secretary could use $100 million of the funds for administrative expenses.
To be eligible for funds, an air carrier or contractor would agree to various terms, including not to conduct involuntary furloughs or reduce pay rates and benefits until Sept. 30, 2020, and not to provide certain executive salary increases, bonuses or large severance payments. The Transportation secretary could also condition assistance on the carrier maintaining scheduled air transportation service.
Coronavirus relief funds (Title V): This title would provide $150 billion to state, tribal and local governments to cover costs that:
— Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency caused by Covid-19
— Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved for the state or government
— Were incurred between March 1, 2020, and Dec. 30, 2020.
Each state would receive funds based on population, with no state receiving less than $1.5 billion. A total of $3 billion would be allocated to all territories, including the District of Columbia, with $8 billion directed to tribal governments.
Miscellaneous provisions (Title VI): The division’s final title would provide up to $10 billion in borrowing authority for the U.S. Postal Service if the USPS determines that, due to the coronavirus emergency, the Postal Service will not be able to fund operating expenses without borrowing money.
Emergency Appropriations for Coronavirus Health Response and Agency Operations (Division B)
This division, the bill’s appropriations package, would funnel $339.86 billion in emergency funding to government agencies; 80 percent of which would go to state and local governments, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Agriculture-FDA (Title I): The bill would provide $34.9 billion to the Agriculture Department, FDA and related agencies, including:
— $9.5 billion for USDA’s Office of the Secretary account to support agricultural producers impacted by Covid-19
— Nearly $146 million for USDA rural development programs, including $25 million for the Rural Utilities Service to fund its distance learning, telemedicine and broadband programs “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, for telemedicine and distance learning services in rural areas,” according to the text
— $25.06 billion for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, including $15.51 billion for SNAP to cover the waiver authorities granted in H.R. 6201, Congress’ second coronavirus package, and $8.8 billion for child nutrition programs to help schools feed students flexibly
— $80 million for FDA to support the development of vaccines, manufacturing for medical products and monitoring of medical product supply chains
Commerce-Justice-Science (Title II): The bill would provide $3.07 billion to the Commerce and Justice departments and the National Science Foundation, as well as related agencies. The total includes:
— $1.89 billion for the Commerce Department, including $1.5 billion for the Economic Development Administration for economic grants to communities impacted by the coronavirus
— $1 billion to the Justice Department, including $100 million for the Bureau of Prisons to cover overtime for correctional officers and $850 million in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants to support state, local and tribal officers in responding to the coronavirus, including via protective personal equipment, overtime and supplies for inmates
— $60 million to NASA to assist with mission delays caused by the coronavirus
— $76 million to the National Science Foundation’s ongoing RAPID grant response to the coronavirus, which facilitates near-real-time research to better understand the pandemic
Defense (Title III): The bill would provide an extra $10.5 billion to the Defense Department, which would include:
— $2.45 billion for the Defense Industrial Base, including $1.45 billion for Defense Working Capital Funds to support military services working to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus and $1 billion for use of the Defense Production Act to increase access to medically necessary materials
— $3.8 billion for the Defense Health Program, including $1.8 billion for health care provided to military members, dependents and retirees, $1.6 billion for the expansion of military health facilities and $415 million for research and development of vaccines and anti-viral pharmaceuticals
— $628 million for the procurement of nonmedical protective equipment and pharmaceuticals for military services, as well as for biohazard mitigation
— $1.5 billion for emergency deployments of the National Guard, which would sustain the deployment of up to 20,000 members of the Guard for the next six months as they're called up by states to support coronavirus response efforts, according to a summary of the supplemental prepared by Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee
— $1.1 billion to address shortfalls in defense private sector health care
The legislation would prohibit the Pentagon from transferring any of the emergency money into its drug interdiction account, which has been used by the administration to fund the border wall, to the dismay of lawmakers in both parties.
It would also include several provisions to loosen up contract and payment requirements to aid the defense industry, which has sought increased liquidity and accelerated payments amid the economic slowdown.
The measure would permit advance billings — which occur before a service has been provided — to exceed $1 billion for fiscal 2020 for defense working capital funds that pay for goods and services such as equipment and depot maintenance, storage and transportation of equipment and personnel. The provision exempts an annual limit under federal law.
It would also allow the Pentagon to waive certain restrictions on undefinitized contracts, in which contractors begin work before a final agreement is reached on price and other contract terms, if it deems the waiver necessary due to the coronavirus emergency.
The bill would grant Trump the option of temporarily extending the appointment of several top military officers, including: the Air Force chief of staff; the chief of space operations; the chief of the National Guard Bureau; the directors of the Army and Air National Guard; and the chief of the Army and Navy Reserves.
Energy-Water (Title IV): The bill would direct $221 million to the Interior and Energy departments, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies funded via the annual Energy-Water spending bill. That would include:
— $70 million to the Army Corps of Engineers to continue operation of projects
— $21 million to DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation to support teleworking and facility disinfection, among other things
— $128 million to DOE, including $100 million to support the national laboratory scientific user facilities in research and development efforts surrounding the coronavirus
The division includes a handful of general provisions, including language that would:
— Allow agencies to use the funding for unplanned coronavirus activities that already occurred
— Allow DOE to postpone a required sale of petroleum from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through fiscal 2022
— Modify estimates for discretionary spending derived from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund in previous appropriations bills, including by exempting Army Corps of Engineers funding provided through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund from discretionary spending caps
Financial Services (Title V): The bill would provide an additional $1.82 billion to the Treasury and Justice departments, as well as the District of Columbia, the Election Assistance Commission and other agencies funded by the annual Financial Services spending bill. The total would include:
— $250 million to the IRS to support the tax filing-related provisions included in H.R. 6201
— More than $7 million to the federal judiciary to support remote work and other increased expenses due to the coronavirus spread
— $5 million to the District of Columbia
— $400 million to the Election Assistance Commission to provide grants to states to prepare for the 2020 federal election cycle amid the pandemic, an amount that Democratic election chiefs said March 26 is “not nearly enough”
— $200 million to the FCC to boost its telehealth efforts
— $295 million to the General Services Administration
— $562 to the Small Business Administration
Homeland Security (Title VI): The bill would provide $45.9 billion to DHS, including:
— $178 million for personal protection equipment for DHS personnel
— $100 million for increased sanitation of TSA equipment, overtime pay for TSA employees and explosive detection materials that can be disposed of after a single use
— $141 million for Coast Guard Reserve deployments
— $9 million to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
— $45.4 billion to FEMA to continue its suite of emergency response efforts, $45 billion of which would be provided via the Disaster Relief Fund
Interior-Environment (Title VII): The bill would provide $2.04 billion for departments and programs funded via the annual Interior-Environment spending bill.
This title, along with Title IV, leaves out nearly all of House Democrats' proposed green initiatives, although the titles also do not include extra cash the Trump administration has sought to buy oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Title VII would include:
— $453 million for DOI’s Bureau of Indian Affairs for aid to tribal governments
— $158 million for the Interior Department for purchasing equipment and supplies to disinfect and clean buildings and public areas, supporting law enforcement and emergency management operations, biosurveillance of wildlife and environmental persistence studies, employee overtime and special pay expenses and other response, mitigation or recovery activities
— $7 million for EPA
— $71 million for the U.S. Forest Service
— $1.03 billion for the Indian Health Service
Labor-HHS-Education (Title VIII): The bill would appropriate $172.1 billion to the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments, as well as related agencies, $140 billion of which would go to HHS alone. The total would include:
— $360 million for DOL, $345 million of which would go to a dislocated workers assistance national reserve to aid states and communities in responding to widespread layoffs
— $4.3 billion for HHS’ CDC, of which $1.5 billion would go to state and local preparedness grants and $500 million would go to global health efforts
— $946 million for HHS’ NIH for vaccine, therapeutic and diagnostic research on coronavirus
— $425 million for HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
— $200 million for HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
— $6.3 billion for HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, including $3.5 billion for grants to states to keep child care providers in business and $1 billion for community services block grants to provide assistance to those who need it most
— $955 million for HHS’ Administration for Community Living
— $127 billion for HHS’ Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, of which $100 billion would go, with very few restrictions, to hospitals and health care providers for coronavirus-related expenses, $16 billion would go to the Strategic National Stockpile for PPE, ventilators and other equipment, and $11 billion would go to vaccines and other medical needs
— $30.9 billion for the Education Department, including $13.5 billion for formula grants to states for elementary and secondary education and $3 billion for grants for governors to allocate at their discretion to local education agencies, as well as $14 billion for higher education emergency relief to defray expenses, such as lost revenue and technology costs related to a transition to distance education
— $300 million for the Social Security Administration
The bill would not provide funding that both lawmakers and the Trump administration sought to close the "homework gap,” the term used for the difference between families with internet connections and equipment and those without. Democrats had wanted at least $2 billion to go directly to an FCC subsidy program that helps schools and libraries connect to the internet, while FCC Chairman Ajit Pai requested $50 million for a pilot program geared specifically toward helping schools as students attempt to learn remotely.
Legislative Branch (Title IX): The bill would appropriate $93 million to the legislative branch, including:
— $10 million to the Senate to pay staff and support telework
— $25 million to the House to pay staff and support telework
— $25 million to the Architect of the Capitol to purchase cleaning supplies and pay out service contracts
— $20 million to the GAO to conduct oversight of federal coronavirus response funding
Military Construction-VA (Title X): The bill would provide $19.6 billion for programs funded under the annual Military Construction-VA spending measure, including an additional:
— $14.43 billion for VA medical services, including PPE, testing and medical equipment
— $2.1 billion for VA medical community care, including emergency room and urgent care
— $606 million for VA medical facilities to improve upon existing VA facilities and procure and develop alternative sites
— $2.15 billion for VA information technology systems to be used for telework and telehealth in delivering coronavirus-related services
This title also includes a handful of general provisions, including language that would:
— Authorize VA to expand mental health services delivered via telehealth
— Waive federal pay caps for VA employees responding to the coronavirus
— Require VA to provide personal protective equipment to VA community-based home health workers
State-Foreign Operations (Title XI): The bill would appropriate $1.12 billion to the State Department, USAID, Peace Corps and other programs funded via the annual State-Foreign Operations spending bill, including:
— $674 million for the State Department, including $324 million to maintain consular operations and provide for evacuation expenses and emergency preparedness at diplomatic facilities and $350 million to respond to coronavirus among refugee populations abroad
— $353 million for USAID, including $258 million to address humanitarian needs in coronavirus-impacted areas abroad
— $88 million to Peace Corps to support the evacuation of its volunteers and direct hires
This title also contains several general provisions, including language that would:
— Allow the State Department and USAID to extend paid leave for coronavirus-related reasons
— Allow State Department medical personnel to provide medical assistance on a reimbursable basis to U.S. citizens unable to obtain care abroad
Transportation-HUD (Title XII): This title would provide $48.5 billion for programs that fall under the Transportation-HUD annual spending bill, $31.1 billion for Transportation and $17.4 billion for HUD, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Transportation provisions include: an additional $56 million for the Essential Air Service program; an additional $10 billion to the FAA for Airport Improvement Programs grants, the recipients of which would be required to retain at least 90 percent of employees through the end of the year; nearly $1.02 billion for Amtrak, almost half of which would be in grants to the Northeast Corridor; and an additional $25 billion in Federal Transit Administration transit infrastructure grant for public transit systems, which would be required to go out within a month of enactment.
HUD funding would include: $1.25 billion for tenant-based rental assistance, including $850 million for Section 8 housing programs; $685 milion for the public housing operating fund; $300 million for tribal housing grants; $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants; $4 billion in Emergency Solutions Grants for homeless shelters and outreach workers; $1 billion for project-based rental assistance; and $130 million earmarked for housing for the elderly, people with disabilities and people with AIDS.
General provisions (Title XIII): Among its general provisions, the measure would prohibit any funding from remaining available beyond fiscal 2020 unless expressly allowed.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SO FAR?
As the coronavirus spread across the U.S. between the first case in January and early March, lawmakers moved to stem the disease’s expansion.
Congress on March 5 sent President Donald Trump an $8.3 billion package, H.R. 6074 (116), aimed at helping states and the federal government fight the coronavirus. Trump signed it into law the next day.
The House early March 14 passed a second package, H.R. 6201 (116), 363-40. The Senate cleared it 90-8 on March 18, and Trump signed it into law the same day.
But even as lawmakers were negotiating over the second package, they had begun working on a much-larger third package. OMB on March 17 released a 118-page document outlining what the White House would like to see incorporated. Senate Democrats, via Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, unveiled a list of provisions they wanted included. And Senate Republicans were the first to roll out actual text, introducing S. 3548 (116) on March 19.
Conversations on reaching an agreement began in earnest March 20, with McConnell pledging that the Senate would not leave Washington until a deal was reached. Those negotiations continued through the early morning of March 25, when a deal was announced.
Swift Senate action on the plan hit a speed bump later that day amid opposition from a small group of GOP lawmakers, throwing up a last-minute hurdle as congressional leaders rushed to finalize the bipartisan deal.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) opposed speedy consideration of the measure over concerns it would encourage employees to be laid off instead of working.
At issue was language surrounding beefed-up unemployment insurance, which they said would allow workers to be paid more on unemployment than what they were making while employed.
Ultimately the four senators reached agreement with Senate leaders to allow a vote on their amendment, #1577, to change the language. The Senate rejected the amendment 48-48, with 60 votes required for adoption under a unanimous consent agreement.
Senators immediately adopted by unanimous consent McConnell’s substitute amendment to H.R. 748, #1578, that contained the final, 880-page text of the package, which was circulated only one hour before the start of the vote.
The Senate then passed the amended bill 96-0 only 13 minutes before midnight.
The package now heads to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced during the Senate vote that his chamber will take up the bill at 9 a.m. on March 27 and he hopes it will pass by voice vote.
Members will have the option to come in and record their vote — an option that leadership hopes will dissuade members from objecting to the voice vote and requesting a roll call vote, which would force all members to travel back to Washington. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned March 26 against members being "selfish" by asking for a roll call vote.
President Donald Trump said March 25 that he will sign the package when it arrives at his desk.
Peter H. King, Jennifer Scholtes, Caitlin Emma, Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferris, Nicole Gaudiano, Victoria Guida, Kellie Mejdrich, Connor O’Brien, Juan Perez Jr., Zachary Warmbrodt, Melanie Zanona, John Bresnahan and Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.