12.21.20

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Statement on Latest COVID-19 Relief Package and Omnibus Deal

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, today released a statement on the latest COVID-19 relief package and omnibus bill passed in the House of Representatives and expected to pass the Senate later this evening. This deal comes eight months after the House and Senate agreed on the first COVID relief package, the CARES Act, and three months after House Democrats proposed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, the Heroes Act, which was never considered in the Senate.

This package includes $600 direct payments for all eligible individuals, $300 per week in extended Unemployment Insurance, an extension of the national eviction mortarium, $325 billion for Small Business assistance, and funding for health care needs to address the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Congresswoman Lee successfully fought for inclusion of $2.8 billion for testing, contact tracing, and vaccines for communities of color and medically underserved communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. The funding is intended to support community organizations, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations to serve as trusted messengers of live-saving information in vulnerable communities and assist in vaccine distribution. 

“This relief deal is necessary, but is eight months late and billions of dollars short for the magnitude of this crisis,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “It’s shameful this was the only deal Republicans would agree to despite the massive need for relief around the country. Eight million more people have fallen into poverty since the beginning of the crisis—this survival package is a critical lifeline for relief.

“This legislation includes $600 direct payments, $300 in weekly unemployment insurance, over $300 billion in small business assistance, and extended eviction protection for families. I’m pleased we were able to come to this agreement, but it should be looked at as a down-payment for continued relief on the horizon.  

“I’m appreciative of Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Pallone and Chairwoman DeLauro for working with me to invest $2.8 billion to address the disparate racial and ethnic impact of COVID.  Black, Latino, Asian-American and indigenous people are suffering the worst of this pandemic. Black people are dying at 1.8 times, Indigenous people at 1.5 times, and Latinx people at 1.3 times the rate of white people in the United States. Mortality rates within the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are also high. ?Between January and July, the AAPI death rate rose 35 percent, compared to an increase of 9 percent for white Americans. 

“While we have more work to do, I’m pleased that funding I fought for with the Tri-Caucus, our Native American members and Senator Elizabeth Warren was included in this legislation.

“This deal will serve as a survival package and a critical lifeline to get families through the holidays. This is just a small fraction of what it will take to support families and get the economy to recover as a result of months of Republican inaction. I’m looking forward to continuing our efforts in the new year to keep families afloat, crush this virus, and turn the corner on this difficult period in our history.”

This package is also tied to the FY’21 Omnibus spending bill, which keeps the government open. Congresswoman Lee, who serves as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, successfully included the following provisions in the bill:

  • Nearly $6 billion for PEPFAR, including one and a half billion for the Global Fund.
  • $55 million for UNFPA
  • $68 billion for SNAP
  • $90 billion for veterans’ health
  • Over $500 million to get lead out of drinking water. 
  • Over $400 million for Historically Black Colleges and University’s (HBCU’s)
  • $25.8 billion for Rental Assistance
  • $10.7 billion for Head Start
  • $500 million in Help America Vote grants
  • $3.36 billion for GAVI to support vaccinations around the world and help developing countries tackle this pandemic.
  • Restores Pell grant access for formerly incarcerated individuals