GrayRobinson COVID-19 Task Force E-lert: Update on the Federal Response

Authored by Elizabeth Blair Hancock, Federal Legislative Consultant, and Ellen Lamb, Government Research Analyst, Washington, D.C.

2021 Budget Summary

Washington, D.C. –  February 10, 2021 – The House and Senate have approved a concurrent resolution to set the federal government’s budget for 2021. This budget includes approximately $1.9 trillion in additional spending for COVID-19 disaster relief and economic stimulus.

The resolution is non-binding, and sets totals for House and Senate committees to approve individually, with their own specifications about where and how the newly allocated money will be spent. The House and Senate will draft that legislation next week, and the committees will have only until February 16 to approve it.

Because this legislation will be reconciliation measures instead of independent bills, the Senate can pass them with only a simple majority, not the 60 votes required to prevent a filibuster.

The budget reconciliation instructions call for committees to draft legislation for additional spending in the following amounts:

  • Finance: $1,296.5 billion
  • Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: $305.0 billion
  • Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: $50.7 billion
  • Small Business and Entrepreneurship: $50.0 billion
  • Commerce, Science, and Transportation: $35.9 billion
  • Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry: $22.7 billion
  • Veterans’ Affairs: $17.0 billion
  • Foreign Relations: $10.0 billion
  • Indian Affairs: $8.6 billion
  • Environment and Public Works: $3.2 billion

Committee jurisdictions vary between House and Senate, so the House will allocate legislative responsibilities to reflect those differences.
Spending is expected to follow President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which includes:

  • $350 billion for states and localities to support essential workers, reopen schools, and restore services
  • $170 billion for K-12 and higher education, including
    • $130 billion to support safe school reopening and distance learning
    • $35 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
    • $5 billion to governors for education spending
  • $160 billion for health initiatives, including testing and vaccine manufacturing and distribution
  • Direct payments to individuals and families; the House resolution recommended $1,400 payments, while Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders called for payments of $2,000. A proposal to provide payments only to less wealthy Americans drew support on the Senate floor, but was stripped from the version sent to the House.
  • $25 billion for child care providers, $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, and one year of expanded child care tax credits
  • Extended and expanded food relief, including an extension of the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September, an additional $3 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and an additional $1 billion for Temporary Aid to Needy Families
  • Expanded and extended emergency paid leave and unemployment programs
  • $25 billion in rental assistance, with the eviction moratorium extended through September 30
  • $5 billion to secure housing for the homeless
  • $5 billion for home energy and heating costs, with states eligible to compete for funds to support clean energy projects or reduce electric bills

Although President Biden’s plan called for enactment of a $15/hour federal minimum wage, Congress did not include that in their budget resolution.