Congressmen Gary Palmer, R-Alabama, and Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, both voted for the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2021, the bill that funds the federal government through the fiscal year 2021 and provides an additional $900 billion of funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This bill includes additional COVID-19 relief funding, which includes additional Payroll Protection Program (PPP) dollars, vaccine development and distribution funding, and deductibility for businesses that utilized the first rounds of PPP loans,” Palmer said. “It also contains provisions based on legislation that I introduced, including allowing families with unused funds in Flexible Spending Accounts to carry over those funds to 2021 instead of losing them at the end of 2020, requiring states to set more stringent safeguards against fraudulent unemployment claims, and extending the length of time for states to utilize the funding they received in the CARES Act that was set to expire on December 30th.
“This is a win for the American people and a defeat for left-leaning special interests in our country,” Aderholt said. “This spending bill provides important support for small businesses that have been hurt during this pandemic and provides another round of direct payments to the American people that will help us get through this difficult time and help to shore up our economy. There are important funding increases for NASA, protections for rural hospitals, and increases in rural broadband funding. It also prioritizes our national security and continues to fund the construction of the border wall.”
“This legislation authorizes $900 billion in relief spending, but over $560 billion of that is repurposed funding that had already been appropriated,” Palmer said. “From the very beginning of the negotiations, I advocated for utilizing $137 billion of unused PPP funds and $429 billion of unused Main Street Program funds being held by the Treasury Department to reduce the amount of new spending.
“Additional relief should have been passed months ago, but Speaker Pelosi held it hostage, despite the great harm to American families and businesses,” Palmer added. “Throughout this process, Pelosi has used American families and businesses for political advantage, and people across the country have paid a high price. Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues should pay the price for what they did.”
“I’m disappointed that it has taken Democrats so long to finally negotiate a deal that helps the American people,” Aderholt concluded. “They held on to their liberal wish list for far too long. This should have been done months ago. I’m hopeful that in the future we can get spending bills completed on time and within regular order.”
Aderholt said the bill prioritizes national security and continues to rebuild the military. It saves rural hospitals by letting them become a Rural Emergency Hospital, which gives them the Medicare funding and flexibility to offer health care services their community needs. The bill also increases funding for NASA’s Artemis program, accelerating the return of the United States to the Moon, including $590 million for Exploration Ground Systems, $850 million for the Human Landing System, $1.407 billion for the Orion capsule, $110 million for nuclear thermal propulsion, $1.778 billion to support flights to the International Space Station, $7.301 billion for Science programs and $51 million for the NASA Space Grant program (as well as $26 million for NASA EPSCOR).
Aderholt said that the bill also includes an increase of $2 million for VOTEX SE and the study of tornado development in Alabama. It also provides $635 million for the Rural Broadband ReConnect program which Congressman Aderholt helped create and establishes a $300 million broadband deployment program at NTIA to support broadband infrastructure deployment to unserved areas, prioritizing unserved areas and areas that are more rural. The bill also increases the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant program by $8 million, bringing the funding total to $110 million.
The bill also funds the border wall with $1.375 billion in new funding and maintains all prior-year restrictions on abortions, including preserving the Trump Administration’s Title X Family Planning regulations, which have resulted in abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, leaving the federal program.
Aderholt represents Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. Palmer represents Alabama’s 6th Congressional District.