After months of stalled negotiations over the next round of federal coronavirus aid, on December 21, Congress passed a massive $2.3 trillion legislative package containing both appropriations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 and additional COVID-19 relief.
A big package like this had eluded Congress since they passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) in March with negotiations stopping and starting throughout the summer of 2020.
Although NACo was deeply involved in the negotiations, and was able to secure numerous victories for counties, counties are extremely disappointed that this legislative package does not contain additional direct and flexible funding for state and local governments. Despite the fact that more than 1 million local government employees have lost their jobs, and counties face a daily onslaught of fatalities and economic hardships in our communities, local governments did not get the direct relief they asked from our federal partners.
This legislation does however include another round of Payment Protection Program (PPP) funding for small businesses, unemployment benefits, and funding for vaccine distribution and testing. The bill also includes funding for nutrition assistance, child care and rental assistance to support households impacted by COVID-19. Importantly, after advocacy from NACo and others, the bill also extends the deadline for counties to spend money allocated through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) until December 31, 2021. This extension is no substitute for additional flexibility in that program, or additional aid.
NACo’s new analysis highlights relevant components of the year-end spending deal for county governments, outlining both the COVID-19 relief and omnibus spending package provisions of significance for county policy priorities.