O’Halleran Votes to Secure New Aid for American Families

December 21, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) voted in favor of H.R. 133: new legislation to address the public health and economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic and to fund the government through September 30, 2021.

“While I am beyond relieved we’ve finally passed a new, bipartisan deal for struggling families, businesses, and hospitals, this is no victory; it is merely delivering the bare minimum for the American people,” said O’Halleran. “Today, we finally did what should have been done months ago. Since we passed the CARES Act in March, I’ve worked with a bipartisan, bicameral group to come to the table, stay at the table, and work to restart negotiations. While today’s package is not the totality of relief that is needed, I’m pleased we are finally moving in the direction we desperately need to go.”

In May, O’Halleran voted to pass the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion package to follow the CARES Act and throw a lifeline to families struggling to put food on the table due to no fault of their own, along with an updated Heroes Act—a $2.2 trillion iteration of the original—which O’Halleran voted for in October. The Senate refused to take up either measure.

Within today’s joint COVID-19 aid package and omnibus is

  • $120 billion in Unemployment Insurance
    • an additional $300 per week for all workers receiving unemployment benefits
      • expanded coverage to the self-employed, gig workers, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides additional weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits to individuals who exhaust their regular state benefits;
  • a second round of Economic Impact Payments
    • $600 for individuals making up to $75,000 per year, $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 per year, and a $600 payment for each child dependent, meaning a family of four will receive $2,400;
  • $69 billion for vaccines, COVID-19 testing and tracing
    • $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, $9 billion for vaccine distribution, and roughly $22 billion to help states with testing, tracing and COVID-19 mitigation
      • of this total, $2.5 billion will be sent out as grants specifically targeted at needs in underserved areas, including rural communities;
  • $325 billion in new small business aid
    • $284 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, expanded PPP eligibility for 501(c)(6) nonprofits,
    • $20 billion for new EIDL Grants for businesses in low-income communities,
    • $3.5 billion for continued SBA debt relief payments, and
    • extension of the refundable Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC);
  • $25 billion for emergency federal rental assistance and an extension of the existing CDC eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021
    • $800 million reserved for Native American housing entities;
  • $82 billion for states, K-12 schools, and institutions of higher education that have all been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic
    • $818.8 million in relief for outlying areas and the Bureau of Indian Education;
  • $26 billion in nutrition assistance
    • $13 billion to increase SNAP benefits by 15%, provide additional funding for food banks and senior nutrition programs, and to ensure college students have access to SNAP and
    • $13 billion for direct payments, purchases and loans to farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses due to the pandemic;
  • $10 billion in emergency funds for the childcare sector
    • $250 million for Head Start providers to ensure they are able to continue to safely serve low-income children and families;
  • and $45 billion for transportation, including $15 billion for airline payroll support, $1 billion for airline contractor payrolls, $14 billion for transit and $10 billion for state highways.

“While today’s legislation addresses some concerns, it comes nowhere close to addressing all concerns,” remarked O’Halleran following the vote. “I never want to see the kind of partisan procrastination we dealt with all summer hamstring our ability to function as a Congress again. Lawmakers in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle need to wake up to the reality that these bills are life or death for the families we are sworn to represent—the nurse working around the clock, the mother feeding her children on food stamps that are running out, the manager unable to pay his employees. We’ve let them down this year and we must do better, period.”

Also within the legislation are important measures O’Halleran secured for Arizona’s First Congressional District, including

  • the legislative base of O’Halleran’s HR. 7557, which extends the deadline by which funds provided to tribes by the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act must be spent;
  • $7 billion in broadband improvement and implementation, including
    • $3.2 billion in emergency funds for low- income families to access broadband,
    • $1 billion in tribal broadband funding,
    • $250 million dollars in telehealth funding,
    • $65 million to complete nationwide broadband maps to more effectively disperse funding to the areas that need it most,
    • $2 billion to small telecommunication providers to rip out Huawei/ZTE equipment to replace it with secure equipment,
    • and a new $300 million grant program to fund broadband in rural areas;
  • O’Halleran’s Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act (H.R. 4447), which will expand the adoption of energy storage technologies necessary to save renewable energy for consumers in rural areas;
  • O’Halleran’s Tribal Power Act (H.R. 5541), which will help electrify Indian Country by expanding the availability of renewable energy infrastructure and increasing resources for the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy;
  • the bipartisan No Surprises Act, which will end surprise medical bills for patients, ensuring they are only responsible for their usual in-network cost-sharing amounts and deductibles;
  • reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians and extension of the mandatory funding for Community Health Centers from 2021 to 2023, both of which were introduced by Rep. O’Halleran;
  • $243.2 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, a $25.3 billion increase above FY 2020;
  • and 1,000 new Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) residency positions, including some specifically allocated to rural areas, the first expansion of the GME program in nearly 15 years.

“Congress needs to look in the mirror and identify why this national emergency was not continually addressed over the course of this unprecedented year,” continued O’Halleran. “We need to make swift and permanent changes to identify what led us here, address this government dysfunction, and regain the trust of the Americans who sent us here to work for them. I stand ready and willing to work with anyone of any party to do so and look forward to introducing new legislation next Congress that will address this dysfunction.”

View the text of the legislation, HERE. For a one-page summary of the appropriations provisions, click HERE. For a one-page summary of COVID-19 relief provisions, click HERE.