Over the last few weeks, we have written several posts concerning the massive Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”). The 5,593-page bill includes everything from a new stimulus package to aid Americans during the pandemic to environmental provisions to combat climate change. Although the CAA is extensive, there are some provisions that did not make the cut. In this post we will briefly set forth what is not in new spending and stimulus bill.
Student Loan Forbearance
Way back in March, Congress passed the first stimulus package, the CARES Act, which suspended payments and interest on student loans through September 30, 2020. In August, President Trump signed an executive order extending the student loan forbearance until the end of the year. Later in December, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos extended the emergency relief measures until January 31, 2021. Although an extension of the forbearance was included in early versions of the CAA, it was cut in the final rounds of discussion. Without an extension, student loan payments are set to restart in February.
State and Local Government Funding
The $2.3 trillion spending and stimulus bill does not include any funding that would go directly to state and local governments. Initial versions of the bill included $160 billion in assistance to state and local governments, but this funding was later dropped during the negotiations.
Even though the CAA does not provide any direct funding to state and local governments, it does include some provisions which will help stabilize state and local budgets. Back in March, the CARES Act provided $150 billion in coronavirus relief funds to state and local governments to help cover expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency. These funds were set to expire at the end of 2020, which resulted in states rushing to try and spend their funds before losing them. The CAA extends this deadline by a year, so state and local governments will have until the end of 2021 to use the funds provided by the CARES Act. The CAA also provides emergency resources for schools, state highways and transit funding, as well as funding for vaccine distribution. Although the CAA does not provide direct funding to state and local governments, there are some provisions that should help governments balance their budget.
Corporate Liability Protections
Another hotly contested issue during negotiations for the CAA was whether to include liability protections for corporations. Early versions of the bill included such protections, which would exempt companies from lawsuits resulting from workers or customers who may have had potential exposure to the virus. Just like direct funding to state and local governments, liability protections were dropped from the CAA during the final stages of negotiations.
If you have questions concerning the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 the attorneys at the Wladis Law Firm may be reached at (315) 445-1700 or by emailing your usual firm contacts. We will do our best to provide you with updates and will be available to answer questions as circumstances change.