Dec 23, 2020

Coronavirus Relief Bill on the Horizon

Congressional leaders announced an agreement on an approximate $900 billion COVID-19 relief and economic aid measure.

water utilities

The COVID-19 relief package, which congressional leaders announced an agreement to on Dec. 20, includes about $325 billion in business relief and about $275 billion for another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding.

The legislation also includes $45 billion for transportation needs such as state transportation departments and Amtrak, $82 billion for schools, $20 billion for vaccine distribution, and $13 billion for a major expansion in food stamps, reported WEF.

The package includes payments to individuals, loans for small businesses, and funds for transportation workers and others, reported WEF

The measure has not been signed by President Trump yet. He has until Dec. 28 to sign the bill into law, reported The Wall Street Journal. Trump is calling on lawmakers to increase the direct payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000. 

Pelosi is aiming for a Christmas Eve vote on the proposal raising the amount of direct payments included in the bill, reported USA Today.

Water utility leaders will also notice two key provisions that may be helpful, WEF reported: the Low-Income Water Utility Bill Assistance of approximately $638 million and the $25 billion Rental Assistance Program.

The deal is combined with a $1.4 trillion appropriations package measure to keep government agencies operating through Sept. 30, 2021. 

“Today, we have reached agreement with Republicans and the White House on an emergency coronavirus relief and omnibus package that delivers urgently needed funds to save the lives and livelihoods of the American people as the virus accelerates,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “We are going to crush the virus and put money in the pockets of the American people.” 

According to WEF, in conjunction with the COVID-19 relief package is the FY21 Omnibus Appropriations Package, which includes: 

  • Clean Water SRF of approximately $1.6 million
  • Drinking Water SRF of approximately $1.2 million
  • WIFIA of approximately $59.5 million 
  • EPA Overflow Control & Storm Water Municipal Reuse Grant (OSG) Program of approximately $40 million 
  • EPA Water Workforce Development Grant Program of $3 million

Part of the agreement is a new Water Resources Development Act, which will authorize $9.9 billion in federal funds for 46 US Army Corps of Engineers water projects, added the WEF press release.

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