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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17)

Bill includes critical Bustos wins for government oversight, public and mental health, defense and rural communities

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, helped pass a historic package which includes the $900 billion Emergency Coronavirus Relief and $1.4 trillion Omnibus Appropriations bill to help Illinois families and communities continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and secure necessary funding for fiscal year 2021.

LISTEN: Congresswoman Bustos speaks about the bipartisan historic package.

“Help is on the way. Today’s relief package will deliver critical support for our efforts to defeat this virus. From direct payments to the American people to funding for vaccine distribution to desperately needed unemployment insurance, this historic legislation is a significant and necessary step forward,” said Congresswoman Bustos.

“But let’s be clear – we have more work to do. Regions of our Congressional District like Peoria and Rockford still need assistance to avoid layoffs and keep necessary city services like garbage pickup and snow removal. Additional support will be needed for a strong national testing and tracing strategy to be implemented under President-elect Biden. Our families and small businesses will need more help as we continue to navigate the pandemic. Today, we will work to deliver relief, and tomorrow we will continue to fight to make sure the health and well-being of Illinois families is at the heart of our next steps forward.”

“This package also includes significant investments in communities across our nation and state. At a time when support for food security, safe communities, our veterans and service members, schools and secure housing is all critical, today’s package puts Illinoisans and Americans first and funds our federal government for the fiscal year. The vote I cast today in support of this appropriations legislation is a vote for the critical programs that our country needs to begin to rebuild better.”

Emergency Coronavirus Relief

The package contains $900 billion in emergency coronavirus relief to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people. Provisions for COVID-19 relief include:

  • Support to accelerate vaccine distribution: Billions to accelerate the free and equitable distribution of safe vaccines to as many Americans as possible as quickly as possible. Includes support for a strong national testing and tracing strategy.
  • End to surprise medical billing: Legislation that will end surprise medical billing for emergency and scheduled care, ensuring that Illinoisans aren’t left with sticker shock when they visit the doctor.
  • Strong support for small business: More than $284 billion for forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and critical policy changes to the program including:
    • Expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits
    • Expanded eligibility for local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters
    • Key modifications to target help to the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits and better assist independent restaurants
    • $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions
    • $20 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grants, critical to many smaller businesses
    • Funding set aside for the smallest businesses and lenders through community-based lenders like Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs)
    • $9 billion in emergency U.S. Treasury investments and $3 billion in emergency support to help low-income and underserved communities, including those that may be disproportionately impacted by the economic effects of the COVID–19 pandemic
  • Rental assistance: $25 billion in critically-needed rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
  • Direct payment checks: Democrats secured a new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child.
  • Strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit: Families who faced unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic will be able to receive a strong tax credit based on their 2019 income.
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: Americans out of work will receive a $300 per week in unemployment insurance enhancement.
  • Nutrition assistance for hungry families: $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits.
  • Support for education and child care: $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including funding to help reopen classrooms and $10 billion for child care assistance to keep the doors of child care centers open so parents can get back to work.
  • Investment in increased broadband access: $7 billion for increased broadband access, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help millions of students, families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.

Omnibus Bill to Fund the Federal Government

The Omnibus includes all 12 Appropriations packages previously passed by the House which will fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year. The legislation includes significant Bustos wins:

  • Bustos secures first-of-its-kind Social Determinants pilot program and inter-agency council: Included in the package is a first-of-its-kind $3 million pilot program, modeled after Congresswoman Bustos’ Social Determinants Accelerator Act, as part of the spending bill. This new program will help local governments create plans to empower local communities to fight the social factors that harm long-term health, such as health care provider shortages, food deserts, unsafe and insecure housing and other environmental factors.

After news broke this June that the Administration had been sending stimulus checks to deceased people, Congresswoman Bustos continued to advocate for federal agencies to share data in order to avoid wasteful spending. A compromise version of this legislation passed as part of this year-end package.

  • Bustos Passes Legislation to Address Mental Health Amidst Pandemic: Mental health struggles have reached epidemic levels in the midst of pandemic-related shutdowns. Earlier this year, Congresswoman Bustos introduced the Crisis Care Improvement and Suicide Prevention Act to help states upgrade crisis care programs and strategies.

This legislation was passed as part of this year-end package and would direct states to utilize five percent of their Mental Health Block Grant for crisis care services.

  • Bustos Passes PARTT 147 Legislation to Update Aviation Maintenance Training: Included in this package are provisions from Congresswoman Bustos and Senator Tammy Duckworth’s bipartisan Promoting Aviation Regulations for Technical Training (PARTT) 147 Act to update the decades-old federal regulations for training aviation maintenance workers and make sure those regulations align with work that more accurately reflects what is actually done on the job.
  • Bustos Fights for Rural Communities and Agriculture: The legislation includes an increase in funding for agricultural research of $3.3 billion, following Congresswoman Bustos’ advocacy for support for agricultural programs. It also includes more than $2 billion for Rural Water and Wastewater Program loans and grants, and $635 million for the  ReConnect program to invest in rural broadband.
  • Robust funding for national defense programs like those in Peoria, Rockford and the Quad Cities:
    • A $1.5 million to fund a pilot program for Online Real Estate Inventory Tools to catalog unused military real estate, similar to “Zillow.com”.
    • More than $259 million in support for upgrades to C-130H aircraft, like those flown at the Peoria Air National Guard Base
    • More than $165 million in funding to support programs such as those at the Rock Island Arsenal, including large-scale additive manufacturing prototyping, soft recoil artillery systems, lightweight body armor mechanisms, and work at the Arsenal to manufacture a modern variant of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) that makes the field repair of battle-damaged vehicles more effective.
    • $5 million for research into “low spool generator capabilities,” to make next-generation fighters more efficient and powerful. Much of this research takes place in Rockford, Illinois.

The Omnibus bill also:

  • Supports food security: Robust investments in WIC, child nutrition programs, and SNAP.
  • Supports programs that keep our communities safe: $3.3 billion for state and local preparedness grants, training and exercises.
  • Supports servicemembers and military families: increases funding for programs directly impacting the quality of life for servicemembers, their families, and military communities, and fully funds the 3.0 percent military pay raise.
  • Honors our veterans: provides $90 billion for VA medical care, including funding to provide homelessness assistance, suicide prevention and outreach.
  • Combats climate change and protects our environment: $9.24 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency – the highest level of funding in ten years – to ensure clean air and water and to hold polluters accountable. The bill also includes additional funding for energy innovation, efficiency and renewable energy, and support for the development of clean, affordable and secure energy and a resilient electric grid.
  • Provides pathways to better schools: $16.5 billion for Education for the Disadvantaged Grants to Local Educational Agencies and $12.9 billion for IDEA Special Education Grants to States.
  • Expands access to housing: $43.4 million in new, targeted vouchers to reduce homelessness among families with children, individuals, the unsheltered, veterans, and survivors of domestic violence.

The legislation is expected to be voted on by the Senate before heading to the President’s desk for signature.

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MIL OSI USA News