Huffman Votes to Pass Emergency Coronavirus Relief, Year-End Funding Bill

December 21, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 133, the omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2021, which included provisions secured by Democrats to combat the coronavirus and put money in the pockets of working families who are struggling.

“Thousands of Americans have been holding on by a thread, desperately waiting for relief. I’m glad we were able to reach this deal, but we have not secured anywhere close to the support that’s needed to combat the coronavirus, help families, and rebuild the economy,” said Rep. Huffman. “Some of our greatest successes were in support and clarity for small businesses, increased food assistance, and providing billions for vaccine deployment and the personal protective equipment stockpile.

“But the short-term duration of many critical programs and funding priorities is a disappointment, and possibly the biggest compromise we had to make to quickly get this relief passed. Republicans still refuse to put the needs of frontline workers and struggling families first, instead resorting to political stunts to prevent the incoming Biden-Harris administration from successfully confronting this crisis. State and local governments need much more funding, and lifelines for many Americans like unemployment insurance must be increased and extended. Much more is needed, and we will start negotiating immediately on a bill to extend and improve these programs that can be signed into law day-one of the Biden-Harris administration,” Rep. Huffman concluded.  

Rep. Huffman successfully advocated to include multiple funding and policy priorities for northwest California in the final package:

  • Extends marina fee retention authority for the Shasta Trinity National Forest, which allows the Forest Service to retain fees from marina uses and special permits in the National Recreation Area and reinvest these funds in recreation and public safety improvements. This was one of Rep. Huffman’s top priority requests to support the outdoor recreation economy in Trinity County; the Shasta-Trinity Recreation Area is visited by over 2 million people each year and this authority has provided $500,000 to $800,000 annually in recent years.
  • Invests in key North Coast and environmental priorities as part of the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, which includes increasing the set-aside for smaller “emerging ports” like those on the North Coast, prioritization of completing the feasibility study for a dam raise at Coyote Valley, and $30 million for ongoing water and boat inspection operations at Lakes Sonoma and Mendocino. You can read more about the WRDA bill and its impact on the North Coast here.
  • Authorizes new water infrastructure and research programs that were part of Rep. Huffman’s FUTURE Western Water Infrastructure and Drought Resiliency Act, an ambitious water infrastructure proposal that was the culmination of months of public vetting and legislative development. Today’s legislation includes improvements to the WaterSMART program and the Cooperative Watershed Management Program, as well as new research investments in water technology and snow water supply forecasting, and an ambitious new aquatic ecosystem restoration program that will help effort sin the Eel and Russian River basins. More on Huffman’s FUTURE Western Water Infrastructure and Drought Resiliency legislation can be found here.
  • Fisheries relief: Provides $300 million in assistance to fisheries participants to help mitigate coronavirus-related economic impacts, with $30 million set aside for Tribal fisheries. The agreement also provides $1.5 billion for the USDA to purchase food and agriculture products, including seafood. Earlier this year, Rep. Huffman led a bipartisan letter to House leadership requesting additional fisheries relief funding and federal purchasing.
  • Provides $8.9 million in funding for the EPA’s work in the San Francisco Bay, which includes habitat restoration, wetlands recovery, climate change resiliency and wildlife protection projects throughout the Bay and Delta.
  • IDEA: Provides $12.9 billion for Part B grants to states under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act which represents a $172 million dollar increase over FY20 appropriations levels and makes it possible to hire teachers, invest in safety, and provide the resources students and faculty need to adapt to new challenges brought on by the pandemic. You can read more about Rep. Huffman’s work on IDEA here.

Other provisions that Democrats secured in the legislation include:

  • Accelerating coronavirus vaccine distribution and federal support to combat the coronavirus: The bipartisan COVID relief package finally recognizes that we cannot get our economy working unless we can get the coronavirus under control.  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.
  • Ends surprise billing: The package includes bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will end surprise billing for emergency and scheduled care. The bill also includes a 3-year extension of numerous public health programs, including funding for Community Health Centers and the Special Diabetes Program.
  • Strong support for small business: Democrats secured critical funding and policy changes to help small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, and nonprofits recover from the pandemic. The agreement 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.
  • Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions: The agreement includes dedicated PPP set-asides for very small businesses and lending through community-based lenders like Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs); $9 billion in emergency U.S. Treasury capital investments in CDFIs and MDIs to support lending in low-income and underserved communities, including persistent poverty counties, that may be disproportionately impacted by the economic effects of the COVID–19 pandemic; and $3 billion in emergency support for CDFIs through the CDFI Fund to respond to the economic impact of the pandemic on underserved low-income and minority communities. 
  • Rental assistance: Democrats secured $25 billion in critically needed rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
  • Strengthens the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: The package enhances the LIHTC to help increase affordable housing construction and provide greater certainty to new and ongoing affordable housing projects.
  • Expands access to housing by, for the first time, providing $43.4 million in new targeted vouchers to reduce homelessness among families with children, individuals, the unsheltered, veterans, and survivors of domestic violence.
  • Direct payment checks: Democrats secured a new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child, also ensuring that mixed-status families receive payments. 
  • Strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit: The agreement 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.
  • Supports paid sick leave: The agreement provides a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave, based on the Families First framework.
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit: The agreement extends and improves the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help keep workers in the jobs during coronavirus closures or reduced revenue.
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: Democrats averted the sudden expiration of Unemployment Insurance benefits for millions and added a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work.
  • Nutrition assistance for hungry families: Democrats secured $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the historic hunger crisis that has left up to 17 million children food insecure.
  • Education and child care: The agreement provides $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.
  • Supports grieving families: The measure activates the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Disaster Funeral Assistance program in order to provide financial support for funeral planning to the hundreds of thousands of families that have lost a loved one this year. This funding will be provided at a 100% federal cost-share. The measure also provides $2 billion for the Disaster relief fund.
  • Historic expansion of Pell Grants: The package includes the largest expansion of Pell Grant recipients in over a decade, reaching 500,000 new recipients and ensuring more than 1.5 million students will now receive the maximum benefit.
  • Expands broadband access: The agreement invests $7 billion to increase access to broadband, including a new, $50 per week Emergency Broadband Benefit to help millions of students, families and unemployed workers afford broadband; $330 million for broadband infrastructure programs; and $65 million to complete broadband maps that will identify the most underserved communities and help bridge the digital divide.
  • Fights the climate crisis with $7.026 billion for DOE’s Office of Science to support energy innovation of the future; $2.86 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and $427 million for ARPA-E to support the development of clean, affordable, and secure energy; and $367.7 million for a reliable, resilient electric grid. The agreement includes sweeping clean energy reforms, R&D enhancements, efficiency incentives, provisions to expand renewable energy on public lands, and extends clean energy tax credits to create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the clean economy. The package also phases out superpollutant HFCs, positioning the U.S. to lead the world in avoiding up to 0.5 degree Celsius of global warming.
  • Reverses harmful Trump Administration cuts to climate change programs by providing $2 billion for NASA Earth Science, including climate observing programs, an increase of $28.2 million above FY 2020, as well as $182 million for NOAA Climate Research, $12.5 million above FY 2020. 
  • Fish and wildlife conservation: The bill includes $72 million for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, a much-needed boost in funding to conserve at-risk fish and wildlife.
  • Global Health: Democrats secured an additional $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.
  • Supports the USPS: The agreement converts the USPS’s $10 billion loan from the CARES act into direct funding in order to support the agency as it grapples with COVID-19 related expenses and continues to make essential deliveries.

Additional materials on the legislation can be found here: