Congress Passes Omnibus Appropriations and COVID-19 Relief Package

December 21, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate voted to pass H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, providing for close to $1.4 trillion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations and over $900 billion in emergency COVID-19 relief spending. The product of extensive bipartisan negotiations, this legislation will fully fund the government through September 30, 2021 and direct funds to assist with pandemic response and boost the economy. The bill does not include aid to state and local governments to replace revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic.

Specific COVID-19 relief provisions impacting public works and infrastructure include:

  • Extending the availability of remaining funding to state and local governments from the previous COVID-19 relief package, the CARES Act, for one year until December 31, 2021;
  • $69 billion to assist the Center for Disease Control and state governments with vaccine distribution and COVID-19 testing/tracing;
  • $10 billion to state governments for highway maintenance/construction;
  • $14 billion to assist transit agencies facing budget cuts;
  • $1 billion to Amtrak to replace lost revenue.

FY 2021 appropriations include funding for the below agencies:

Transportation

  • $25.3 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation, a $484 million increase over FY 2020 enacted levels.

Water

  • $9.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a $179 million increase over FY 2020 enacted levels.

Emergency Management

  • $71.7 billion for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a $1.9 billion increase over FY 2020 enacted levels;
  • Including $21.6 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a $604 million decrease from FY 2020 enacted levels.

Workforce Development

  • $77.2 billion for the U.S. Department of Education, a $850 million increase over FY2020 enacted levels;
  • $13.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Labor, a $120 million increase over FY2020 enacted levels.
Once passed, this package will be the fourth COVID response measure passed by Congress and bring overall spending on COVID relief to over $4 trillion. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.