WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) voted tonight to approve the Fiscal Year 2021 omnibus bill to fund the federal government, which includes a $900 billion bipartisan COVID-19 relief package to provide emergency relief to millions of families and small businesses suffering during the pandemic, the creation of the National Museum of the American Latino, and other key priorities for New Jersey.

Sen. Menendez said the following:

“Finally, Congress has passed desperately-needed emergency relief for millions of Americans struggling amid an increasingly protracted pandemic. Far too many are on the brink of disaster as federal benefits and protections are set to expire. It never – never – should have taken this many months for Mitch McConnell to come to the negotiating table.”


“While this package is far from perfect, Democrats secured critical provisions to help families weather this storm, including extending the moratorium on evictions, providing direct financial relief to individuals, giving rent relief to struggling families, and reinstating the expanded unemployment benefits for the millions of workers who have lost their jobs or have experienced a loss of wages over the last nine months.”


“I am deeply disappointed Republicans would not include essential aid for state and local governments, putting the jobs of first responders, teachers, and others at risk. The deal also does not include enough relief for the hard-hit restaurant industry and fails to provide any help for student loan borrowers. My commitment to these issues does not end here.”


“Nonetheless, this bill is a much-needed infusion for our economy and we have given the incoming Administration a strong foundation to help families and businesses in New Jersey and across the country. I look forward to working with the new Administration starting next year to help hard working families, small businesses and frontline workers recover from this unprecedented crisis.”

Below are the provisions in the COVID-19 relief package that will help families and small businesses in New Jersey and across the nation:

Financial Assistance for Families Across the United States

  • Direct payments of $600 for individuals earning less than $75,000 and $1,200 for couples earning less than $150,000, plus $600 per child under the age of 17.

    • The bill ensures that U.S. citizens living in a mixed status household will receive direct payments and will receive retroactive payments from the CARES Act when they file their 2020 tax return. Under the provision, at least one of the two parents or heads of household must have a social security number for all eligible family members to receive a direct payment.

  • Extended Unemployment Insurance (UI). The bill provides an extra $300 a week in addition to one’s base unemployment compensation benefit through March 14, 2021. It also extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program through March 14, 2021, which will ensure self-employed individuals and gig workers have access to UI benefits, and adds 11 more weeks of eligibility for the  Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

  • $25 billion in rental assistance prioritized for those most in need. Funds can be used to pay for rent, utilities and home energy costs, and housing stability services.

  • Extends the eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021.

  • Increases Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15% through June 30, 2021.

  • $7 billion allocated for expanded access to broadband services for students, families and unemployed workers.

  • Strengthens the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). Makes permanent the 4% LIHTC to help increase affordable housing construction and provide greater certainty to new and ongoing affordable housing projects.

State and Local Funding

The bill does not include additional funding for state and local governments, but does extend the deadline for state and local governments to use the $150 billion provided in the CARES Act until December 31, 2021.

Help for Small Businesses

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The bill extends PPP and provides an additional $284 billion in funding.

    • Expands eligibility to local news outlets and 501(c)6 nonprofits.

    • Dedicates $15 billion in funding for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions.

    • Sets aside $15 billion for PPP loans to be issued by smaller financial institutions with$10 billion or less in assets.

    • Allocates $15 billion for PPP loans for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees or for PPP loans of $250,000 or less that are made in low-income or moderate income neighborhoods.

    • Dedicates $35 billion for first-time borrowers.

    • Dedicates $25 billion of second draw loans to be made to small businesses with 10 or fewer employees or for PPP loans of $250,000 or less that are made in low-income or moderate income neighborhoods.

    • Allows PPP borrowers to deduct ordinary business expenses like rent and payroll costs.

    • Adds costs related to personal protective equipment and outdoor dining as eligible and forgivable expenses.

    • Simplifies the forgiveness process for loans of $150,000 and less.

  • Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grant Program. The bill creates a $20 billion EIDL grant program which offers $10,000 for small businesses with 25 employees or less or for small businesses in low-income communities.

  • Troubled Debt Restructuring (TDR). One year suspension of  TDR requirements, allowing lenders to more easily  extend loan modifications to customers impacted by COVID.

  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI).  $15 billion of PPP loans to be issued by CDFIs and MDIs. An additional $9 billion in emergency U.S. Treasury capital investments in CDFIs and MDIs to support lending in low-income and underserved communities, including communities with 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 current economic crisis  

Help for Health Care Systems

  • $8.75 billion for vaccine distribution, planning, promotion, monitoring, tracking, and other related activities to ensure robust COVID-19 vaccination rates.

  • $22.4 billion for testing and contract tracing including $2.5 billion to expand testing and contact tracing in high-risk and underserved populations. 

  • $3 billion for the Provider Relief Fund to support providers who remain on the frontlines.

  • $4.5 billion to combat substance abuse which has been on the rise due to the pandemic and for mental health services.

  • $250 million to support health care providers providing telehealth services.

Support for Schools

  • $54.3 billion to support K-12 education.

  • $22.7 billion to support institutions of higher education.

  • $4.05 billion for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.

  • $250 million for Head Start programs.

Support for Transportation

  • $14 billion for transit agencies

  • $1 billion for Amtrak.

  • $2 billion for our nation’s airports.

  • $10 billion for state highway funding.

  • $2 billion for private commuter bus, school bus and ferry operators.

  • $15 billion for airlines and $1 billion for contractors.

 

Below are key provisions Sen. Menendez secured in the FY21 spending package:

Latino Museum

  • National Museum of the American Latino. Authorizes the Smithsonian Institute to create the National Museum of the American Latino to celebrate contributions Latinos have had in the United States.

  • Smithsonian Institution Latino Initiatives Center. Secured $6 million for the center.

Environment

  • Hoboken Flood Resiliency Project Extension. The one-year extension will allow Hoboken to continue working on their flood mitigation project. 

  • Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers Program. Secured $3.925 million for this program.

  • Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction. The provision makes permanent the deduction for energy efficiency improvements to building envelope, lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water systems of commercial buildings.

Health Care

  • Autism CARES. $53.3 million for autism programs at HRSA, a $1 million increase from last year.

  • Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act. Provide greater funding to educate health care providers on Alzheimer’s dementia care planning services.

  • Health Centers and other public health programs. Provides three years of funding for Federally Qualified Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Centers, and Special Diabetes Programs.

  • Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP). Secured $695 million for PHEP programs- a $20 million increase from last year.

  • Hospital Preparedness Program. $280.5 million for this program. Sen. Menendez helped secure a $5 million increase from last year.

  • Vaccine Awareness Programs. Secured $75 million over five years for vaccine awareness programs.

  • Hemophilia Skilled Nursing Facilities Access Act. This will improve access to critical health care services for individuals with hemophilia provided through Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) by adding their treatments to the list of services paid for by Medicare.

  • Supporting Graduate Medical Education at Community Hospitals Act. This bill will allow eligible hospitals to adjust their residency caps to ensure they are able to run robust programs to train the next generation of New Jersey physicians.

  • Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act. For the first time since 1997, there will be new graduate medical education spots. Sen. Menendez secured 1,000 new slots. 

  • Maternal and Infant Health. Greater flexibility for MIECHV programs who are dealing with COVID-related challenges to their visitation programs.

  • Strengthening Average Sales Price Reporting Act. Strengthens reporting requirements for manufacturers for drugs covered in Medicare Part B.

  • Ends Surprise Medical Bills. Address the problem of patients being hit with surprise medical billing by holding patients harmless and establishing a framework for insurance companies and providers to resolve billing disputes.

  • Colorectal Screening Bill. Waives Medicare cost-sharing for seniors who have a polyp removed during colonoscopies.

  • Reduction in Medical Expense Deduction Floor. The provision makes permanent the lower threshold of 7.5 percent for all taxpayers.

 Transportation:

  • Gateway. $700 million for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and additional transit formula funding on top of the FAST Act guarantees. The bill also funds the Capital Investment Grants program at $2 billion.

  • Teterboro Airport. Prohibits funds from being used to increase the aircraft weight restrictions at Teterboro Airport.

Housing

  • CO ALERTS Act. The package includes Sen. Menendez’s CO ALERTS Act, which will require carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in federally assisted housing.

  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Secured $3.75 billion for the program, which provides financial assistance for home heating and cooling to low-income households.

Public Safety

  • COPS Hiring. Secured $237 million, $2 million more than last year, to place an additional 1,300 more police officers on the streets.

  • Firefighter Cancer Registry. Secured $2.5 million to fully fund the registry.

  • Office on Violence Against Women. Appropriates $513.5 million, the highest funding level ever, for grants provided by the Office on Violence Against Women.

  • FEMA Grants.

    • $705 million for Urban Area Security Initiative grants

    • $90 million for UASI Nonprofit Security Grant program

    • $90 million for State Homeland Security Grant Program (Nonprofit Security)

    • $610 million for State Homeland Security Grant Program

    • $720 million for Fire and SAFER grants;

    • $100 million for Public Transportation Security Assistance grants;

    • $100 million each for Port and Transit Security grants;

    • $355 million for Emergency Management Performance grants;

    • $125 million for Emergency Food and Shelter.

Education

  • Early Childhood Education. $5.9 billion to support child care for working families and $10.7 billion for Head Start.

  • National Science Foundation Hispanic Serving Institutions. Provides $46.5 million for the National Science Foundation Hispanic Serving Institutions undergraduate program.

  • IDEA. $14 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

  • Exclusion for certain employer payments of student loans. The provision extends, through 2025, the allowance for employers to provide a student loan repayment benefit to employees on a tax-free basis.

Economic  Development

  • New Markets Tax Credit. The provision extends annual $5 billion allocations of the New Markets Tax Credit for years 2021 through 2025.

  • Community Development Block Grants. $3.475 billion, a $50 million increase from FY2020.  The President’s budget called for the elimination of CDBG.

  • Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. $200 million, $25 million more than FY 2020.  The President’s budget eliminated the Choice Neighborhood Initiative. 

  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The omnibus provides $270 million for the CDFI Fund, $8 million more than FY20.

Army Corps of Engineers

  • Construction of New Jersey Army Corps Projects ($170.4 million)

    • $12,500,000 for Cape May Inlet to Lower Township

    • $400,000 for Lower Cape May Meadows, Cape May Point 

    • $157,460,000 for Raritan River Basin, Green Brook Sub-Basin

  • Operations and Maintenance of New Jersey Army Corps Projects ($85.4 million)

    • $9,000 for Barnegat Inlet

    • $400,000 for Cold Spring Inlet

    • $22,546,000 for Delaware River, Philadelphia to the Sea, NJ, PA, DE

    • $320,000 for Inspection of Completed Works, NJ

    • $2,000 for Manasquan River

    • $1,245,000 for New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway

    • $18,300,000 for New York and New Jersey Harbor

    • $11,929,000 for New York and New Jersey Harbor (drift removal)

    • $13,500,000 for NY/NJ Channels

    • $13,275,000 for Newark Bay, Hackensack and Passaic Rivers

    • $450,000 for Passaic River Flood Warning Systems

    • $2,250,000 for Project Conditions Surveys

    • $100,000 for Salem River

    • $1,100,000 for Shark River

Agriculture

  • Cranberry Research. Secured $5.239 million for cranberry research, an increase of $500,000 from last year.

  • Horse Slaughter Ban. Appropriates zero funding for federally required meat inspectors at horse slaughter plants, effectively making it impossible to slaughter horses for human consumption.

  • Floriculture Crops Report. Secured $1 million for the Floriculture Crops Report which is beneficial to New Jersey’s nursery growers in planning for market demand.

New Jersey Military Installations

  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Secured $37 million for construction projects at the Joint Base, including $15 million for the NJ National Guard Readiness Center and $22 million for Munitions Storage Area.