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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Nita Lowey (17th District of New York)

House-Passed Spending Bill Will Fund COVID-19 Vaccines and Historic Investments for Nonprofit Security Grants, Communities Facing Nuclear Facility Closures, Long Island Sound, Gun Violence and Other Medical Research, and More

International Basic Education Program and New Middle East Partnership Plan Named for Historic Chairwoman of Appropriations Committee

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, today introduced the spending bill that passed the House to fund the federal government through September 2021 and provide $900 billion for COVID-19 relief.

“I am proud of the bill we have negotiated and introduced today,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “This legislation is the product of a bipartisan breakthrough following months of hard work to fund the COVID-19 response as well as priorities like infrastructure improvements, nonprofit security grants, and many others in the regular spending bills. This package will help protect the lives and livelihoods of Americans across the country while making critical investments to improve the quality of life here in the Hudson Valley.”

In her final year in Congress and as Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Lowey has led COVID relief efforts in the House of Representatives, introducing previously enacted legislation to address the pandemic and its economic impacts through trillions in federal investments in support of our heroes on the front lines; vaccine development, testing, tracing, and treatment; and relief for families and small businesses. The $900 billion in COVID-19 relief included in today’s omnibus bill reflects several priorities from the House-passed HEROES Act that Congresswoman Lowey fought to protect in bipartisan, bicameral negotiations.

The government spending bill passed today includes the following COVID-19 relief:

  • $69.75 billion for COVID-19 vaccine delivery and distribution efforts at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fight the coronavirus pandemic:
    • $8.75 billion for Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for federal, state, and local vaccine distribution and tracking;
    • $19.695 billion to assist for manufacturing vaccines and the necessary supplies to assist with the administration of vaccines; and
    • $22.4 billion for testing and contact tracing efforts to mitigate COVID-19.
  • Expanded access to FEMA reimbursements for funeral assistance so those who lost loved ones may give them a proper burial.
  • Direct cash assistance into the pockets of Americans with a new round of direct payments up to $600 per adult and child.
  • Urgently needed assistance for the small business and the nonprofit community:
    • $284.45 billion for first and second rounds of forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans;
    • Expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits;
    • $20 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) Grants; and
    • $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theatres, and cultural institutions.
  • $10 billion for child care assistance to help parents reenter and remain in the workforce and keep child care providers—most of whom are women- and minority-owned small businesses—open.
    • This includes $250 million for Head Start.
  • $82 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund for colleges and schools, including support for school facilities, such as HVAC repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and keep classrooms open.

The fiscal year 2021 government spending bill passed today increases and provides new investments in programs and initiatives Lowey has fought for throughout her career, including:

  • $42.9 billion for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a new record high.
    • This includes an increase of $300 million to research Alzheimer’s and related dementias and an increase of $20 million for a safe and more effective Universal Flu Vaccine.
  • $25 million in gun violence prevention research split evenly between the CDC and NIH.
    • This builds on Congresswoman Lowey’s success last year to restore public health research funding to reduce firearm injury and death for the first time in more than 20 years.
  • $16.5 million for a program to help alleviate the economic burden of nuclear power plant closures, like the Lower Hudson Valley’s Indian Point, an increase of $1.5 million from the FY2020 enacted level for this program that Lowey created.
  • $180 million in total funds for national nonprofit security grants across both Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) regions and non-UASI regions.
    • This is a doubling of the FY2020 enacted level of $90 million.
    • In 2018, Congresswoman Lowey established a $10 million carve-out for nonprofits within the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) program to assist nonprofits and religious institutions outside of UASI regions, like Rockland County, that were previously unable to access this vital assistance.
  • $30.4 million for Long Island Sound cleanup efforts to reduce nitrogen levels in the Sound’s water and restore the surrounding natural habitats.
    • This is a $10 million increase from FY2020 enacted level.
    • One of Congresswoman Lowey’s first priorities in office was to clean up Long Island Sound, and she has secured record high funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Long Island Sound Geographic Program.
  • Funding for vital programs to support the Gateway Project.
    • This includes $200 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair, $700 million for Amtrak, and $325 million for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements, an increase of $50 million. 
    • In addition, this would provide an increase of $225 million for Core Capacity Grants at the Federal Transit Administration, of which the Portal North Bridge is eligible for funding.
    • Congresswoman Lowey has prioritized investment in the Northeast Corridor, which is of both regional and national economic importance for New Yorkers.
  • The Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA) of 2020.
    • Introduced in the House by Chairwoman Lowey and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry and in the Senate by Senators Coons, Graham, Kaine, and Gardner, the legislation first passed in the FY21 House State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) spending bill and was named for Chairwoman Lowey in the Senate SFOPS bill with the support of Chairman Lindsey Graham and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy.
    • MEPPA authorizes $50 million for five fiscal years to establish two different programs designed to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian, engagement, cooperation, and, ultimately, peace.  The effort received support from a broad, bipartisan coalition, including the Alliance for Middle East Peace, AIPAC, J Street, the AJC, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
    • The legislation establishes the People-to-People Partnership for Peace Fund, which will be led by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and guided by a Congressionally appointed advisory board, to provide funding to qualified organizations that foster peaceful coexistence, dialogue, and reconciliation programs between Israelis and Palestinians as well as Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis.
    • It also establishes the Joint Investment for Peace Initiative, which will be led by the Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and will provide investments in projects that contribute to the Palestinian private sector economy in the West Bank and Gaza, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises owned by Palestinians, and that increase economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • $975 million for international basic education, renamed the Nita M. Lowey Basic Education Fund.
    • Of these funds, $150 million will be set aside for the education of girls in conflict-ridden areas and $125 million will be directed toward contributions to multilateral partnerships that support education.
    • SFOPS Ranking Member Hal Rogers and Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger authored the amendment to name the program for Congresswoman Lowey who has championed international basic education, especially for girls.

Congresswoman Lowey’s indelible mark on appropriations policy affecting children was acknowledged in the FY20 spending bill that renamed the federal afterschool program the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Lowey championed the first federal afterschool funds through a $1 million pilot project that has become a $1.25 billion program today.

This fiscal year 2021 appropriations package was passed by the House of Representatives and is expected to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by midnight this evening.

Full details of the legislation can be found here.