Statement of Rep. Danny K. Davis on Passage of Final Appropriations Bill and Pandemic Relief Legislation
DECEMBER 21, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC - I am pleased that the Congress was finally able to come to an agreement on these two major legislative matters. It is unfortunate that it has taken so long and I believe that the up to $600 per adult and child direct payments and $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work is not adequate or sufficient to meet the needs of tens of millions of our people. It is my hope that when we return next year we can set about urgently remedying that deficiency. There were some important additional items included in the legislation including additional $16.5 billion appropriated for education for Disadvantaged Grants to local educational agencies, $43.4 million for targeted vouchers to reduce homelessness, full funding for WIC, child nutrition programs and SNAP, $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including support for HVAC repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open.
I am also pleased many of the provisions I have sponsored this Congress were included like; $500 million for foster youth grants, $100 million for the Second Chance Act, Pell Grants for Prisoners, Community Health Center grants and an increase in above the line charitable deductions to name a few.
The legislation includes important new protections holding patients harmless for surprise medical bills and extends critical public health programs, including Community Health Centers, National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Centers, and Special Diabetes Programs. It expands the Pell Grant program by the largest amount in a decade, including making it easier for students to predict their eligibility and providing incarcerated students access to Pell Grants and discharges loans made to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) under the HBCU Capital Financing Loan program, providing $1.34 billion in relief.
It continues crucial investments in green energy and energy efficiency by extending the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Production Credit (PTC), and other tax incentives designed to incentivize the deployment of residential green energy and energy efficiency commercial buildings and extends the popular Weatherization Assistance Program for low-income energy efficiency retrofits, which will result in approximately 300,000 units receiving weatherization services.
The package provides billions in urgently need funds to accelerate the free and equitable distribution of safe vaccines to as many Americans as possible as soon as possible, to implement a strong national testing and tracing strategy with billions reserved specifically for combating the disparities facing communities of color, and to support our heroic health care workers and providers. An important and critical addition is the inclusion of a supplemental appropriation of $3.36 billion for a total of $4 billion for GAVI, the international vaccine alliance, recognizing that we are not truly safe until the whole world is safe from the coronavirus.
Also included is critical funding and policy changes to help small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, and nonprofits recover from the pandemic. The legislation includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters, key modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits and better assist independent restaurants, and includes $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. The agreement also includes $20 billion for targeted EIDL Grants which are critical to many smaller businesses on Main Street. It includes $25 billion in critically needed rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
The legislation helps ensure that families who faced unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic are able to receive a strong tax credit based on their 2019 income, preserving these vital income supports for vulnerable families and supports paid sick leave: with a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave, based on the Families First framework.
I look forward to getting back to work in the new year to tackle all of the issues and challenges we were unable to resolve.
Congressman Davis is the Chairman of the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee on the House Ways and Means Committee