Here is a preliminary rundown on some of the items included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES bill), which the Senate is scheduled to pass today. This is the 3rd emergency supplemental measure being passed by Congress. The full text of the amended version of S.3548 is not yet available online. We are trying to highlight the items that might be most important to local officials, on the front lines of this battle, and to your citizens, locally. Some of these items will help a specific group of municipalities. Other items will help other groups. This analysis does not cover the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief fund that will provide state, local, and tribal governments with additional resources to address this pandemic. We await reliable information on that crucial component of the Act. We have alerted you that S.3548 does not provide stabilization aid directly to municipalities and you should contact your Member of Congress about that concern. We will provide a more in-depth analysis, once we see the text.
Community Development Block Grant – $5 billion is provided for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to enable nearly 1,240 states, counties, and cities to rapidly respond to COVID-19 and the economic and housing impacts caused by it, including the expansion of community health facilities, child care centers, food banks, and senior services. Of the amounts provided, $2 billion will be allocated to states and units of local governments that received an allocation under the fiscal year 2020 CDBG formula, $1 billion will go directly to states to support a coordinated response across entitlement and non-entitlement communities, and $2 billion will be allocated to states and units of local government, municipalities, and counties based on the prevalence and risk of COVID-19 and related economic and housing disruption.
In order to ensure resources are quickly deployed and meet the unique response needs to COVID-19, the bill eliminates the cap on the amount of funds a grantee can spend on public services, removes the requirement to hold in-person public hearings in order to comply with national and local social gathering requirements, and allows grantees to be reimbursed for COVID-19 response activities regardless of the date the costs were incurred. This funding builds on $6.7 billion provided in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 by allowing grantees to combine prior year funds with new funding in order to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.
Resources for Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement – The bill includes $850 million for the Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne-JAG). Byrne-JAG is the most flexible federal law enforcement grant program and will allow state and local police departments and jails to meet local needs, including purchase of personal protective equipment and other needed medical items and to support overtime for officers on the front lines. Language is included to ensure these resources go out to states and localities quickly in order to immediately respond to this crisis.
Economic Development Administration (EDA) – The bill provides $1.5 billion for economic adjustment assistance to help revitalize local communities after the pandemic. EDA assistance can be used to help rebuild impacted industries such as tourism or manufacturing supply chains, capitalize local funds to provide low-interest loans to businesses of all sizes, and support other locally-identified priorities for economic recovery. Based on the impact of prior funding packages, EDA disaster assistance will leverage an additional $20 billion in local and private investment and support more than 100,000 American jobs.
Election Grants – The bill provides $400 million for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections. Coronavirus is already resulting in the postponement of some primaries and this funding can help states make voting safer for individuals. Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll-workers.
Disaster Relief Fund– $45 billion to provide for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to protect citizens and help them recover from the overwhelming effects of COVID-19. Reimbursable activities may include medical response, personal protective equipment, National Guard deployment, coordination of logistics, safety measures, and community services nationwide.
Assistance to Firefighter Grants – $100 million for personal protective equipment for our nation’s first responders.
$1.5 billion for expansion of military hospitals and expeditionary hospital packages – To alleviate the anticipated strain on both the military and civilian healthcare systems, these funds will nearly triple the 4,300 beds available in military treatment facilities today.
Army Corps of Engineers – $70 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to prepare for and respond to the coronavirus by providing additional equipment, licenses, and IT support to improve teleworking capabilities and ensure secure remote access for Corps staff. Funding will also improve capacity for remote operations of USACE projects and activation of Emergency Operations Centers nationwide to support continued operations of USACE projects.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus, including:
- $1.5 billion to support States, locals, territories, and tribes in their efforts to conduct public health activities, including:
- Purchase of personal protective equipment;
- surveillance for coronavirus;
- laboratory testing to detect positive cases;
- contact tracing to identify additional cases;
- infection control and mitigation at the local level to prevent the spread of the virus; and
- other public health preparedness and response activities.
- $1.5 billion in flexible funding to support CDC’s continuing efforts to contain and combat the virus, including repatriation and quarantine efforts, purchase and distribution of diagnostic test kits (including for state and local public health agencies) and support for laboratory testing, workforce training programs, combating antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic-resistant bacteria as a result of secondary infections related to COVID-19, and communicating with and informing the public, state, local, and tribal governments and healthcare institutions.
Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response – $127 billion for medical response efforts, including:
- $100 billion for a new program to provide grants to hospitals, public entities, not-for-profit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers and institutional providers to cover unreimbursed healthcare-related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the public health emergency resulting from the coronavirus.
Administration for Community Living (ACL) – The bill includes $955 million for ACL to support nutrition programs, home, and community-based services, support for family caregivers, and expand oversight and protections for seniors and individuals with disabilities.
Emergency Management Performance Grants – $100 million for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to support coordination, communications, and logistics.
Federal Emergency Management Agency – $45 million to expand information technology and communications capabilities and to build capacity in response to coordination efforts.
Emergency Food and Shelter Program – $200 million for shelter, food, and supportive services to individuals and families in a sudden economic crisis.
Rental Assistance Protections for Low-Income Americans – $3 billion is included for housing providers to help more than 4.5 million low-income households made up of more than 9.6 million individuals currently assisted by HUD to safely remain in their homes or access temporary housing assistance in response to economic and housing disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – The bill includes $15.5 billion in additional funding for SNAP to ensure all Americans, including seniors and children, receive the food they need.
Child Nutrition Programs – The bill includes $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs to ensure children receive meals while school is not in session.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) – The bill provides $450 million for the TEFAP program. With many communities suffering from job losses, food banks have seen increased needs. These funds are critical so food banks can continue to assist those Americans most in need.
Child Care Development Block Grant – The bill supports child care and early education programs by including $3.5 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant. This funding will allow child care programs to maintain critical operations, including meeting emergency staffing needs and ensuring first responders and health care workers can access child care while they respond to the pandemic.
Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) – The bill includes $1 billion for CSBG to help communities address the consequences of increasing unemployment and economic disruption.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – The bill includes $900 million to help lower-income households heat and cool their homes.
Family Violence Prevention Services – The bill provides $45 million to support families during this uncertain time, and to prevent and respond to family and domestic violence, including offering shelter and supportive services to those who need it.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – The bill provides $425 million for SAMHSA to increase access to mental health services in our communities through Community Behavioral Health Clinics, suicide prevention programs, and emergency response spending that can target support where it is most needed, such as outreach to those experiencing homelessness.
Additional Assistance to Producers – The bill includes $9.5 billion to assist specialty crop producers; producers who support local food systems such as farmers markets, schools, and restaurants; and livestock producers, including dairy.
Amtrak and Rail Safety – $1.018 billion is available to Amtrak to meet its changing operational needs as a result of significantly reduced passenger rail service and ridership on the Northeast Corridor, state-supported, and long-distance routes related to COVID-19. This includes direct assistance to states to help them meet their obligations under the FAST Act in order to minimize service impacts on state-supported routes. The bill also provides $250,000 to the Federal Railroad Administration for safety equipment and assistance to inspectors to help them to rapidly respond to COVID-19 related demands.
Transit Systems – $25 billion is provided to public transit operators to protect public health and safety while ensuring transportation access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essential services remain available during the COVID-19 response. As the revenues that sustain this essential service are severely impacted due to a reduction in farebox revenue and dedicated sales taxes, this increased Federal investment will help to sustain over 430,000 transit jobs and preserve access to our public service and critical workforce that are the backbone of our COVID-19 prevention, response, and recovery efforts.
Assistance for Fishermen – The bill provides $300 million to help fishermen around the country struggling due to disappearing economic markets caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishermen, as well as aquaculture farmers, are all eligible for disaster assistance.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – The bill provides $200 million for the FCC Connected Care Pilot Program. This program will support the efforts of health care providers to address COVID-19 by using telehealth to connect with patients.
Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary – Provides $158.4 million in centralized, flexible resources to allow the Secretary of the Interior to allocate resources to address coronavirus response needs for national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and other bureaus. Includes funding for equipment and supplies for cleaning buildings and public areas; support for law enforcement and emergency personnel deployed to critical areas.
Forest Service – Includes a total of $70 million across Forest Service programs for prevention, mitigation, or recovery activities associated with the coronavirus outbreak, including funding for equipment and supplies for cleaning buildings and public areas; support for law enforcement and emergency personnel deployed to critical areas; support for scientific needs; and increased telework capacity.
Veterans Administration Facilities and IT Support for Telemedicine – The bill provides $3.1 billion for VA to purchase, staff, and equip temporary sites of care and mobile treatment centers to deal with this pandemic. It allows for remodeling to VA facilities and state-run veterans homes to address the needs of veterans being treated for coronavirus. The bill includes funding for the VA to expand the capacity on existing IT networks to address the demand in services and broadens VA’s tele-ICU and teleradiology capabilities. It further enhances the capability for telehealth visits, allowing more veterans to receive care from home, and for providers at home to continue to treat patients through technology. Additionally, it facilitates VA employees working from home to ensure benefits can still be processed.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481 x121