Breakdown of the Congressional Coronavirus Relief Bill

Angelina Astic, Copy Editor

On Dec. 27, President Donald Trump signed the COVID-19 relief and spending bill, delivering over $900 billion in COVID-19 relief to the American people. In addition to the stimulus, the bill also included money for government funding through Sept. 2021.

Congress passed the bill on Dec. 21, with the House of Representatives voting to approve the legislation 359-53 and the Senate voting 92-6. The bill, which amounted to over $2 trillion, included the $900 billion in relief for the pandemic as an addition to the $1.4 trillion allocated to fund the government. The 12 appropriations bills fund federal departments, government programs, as well as items pushed by certain congressional members. 

To avoid a government shutdown, Congress also passed a week-long stopgap spending bill which kept the government open until Trump received the COVID-19 relief and spending bill. Trump signed the temporary funding, ensuring that the government would remain open until Dec. 28.  

Upon receiving the official year-long legislation on Dec. 22, Trump released a statement explaining that he viewed the bill as a “disgrace” and felt that its contents did not match what he had expected. One of the most talked about points Trump made entails his asking of $2,000 instead of $600 for each American, an initiative supported by many Democrats, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

A majority of members of the GOP party, against the increase in $2,000 payments, blocked the attempted increase in stimulus checks. After conversations with lawmakers, Trump signed the COVID-19 relief and spending bill into law on Dec. 27, ensuring that Americans received necessary aid and that the government could remain open for months to come. 

Below is a breakdown of the bill which prevented an estimated 12 million Americans from losing coverage under extended unemployment benefits that would have expired on Dec. 31. 

Direct Benefits for Americans 

For those earning a yearly income of up to $75,000, a payment of $600 would be made. Those who make between $75,000 to $87,000 a year received smaller payments. Benefits maxed out for those who make more than $87,000 a year. 

During negotiations, lawmakers deemed dependents ages 17 and over ineligible for the $600 payment. However, under this bill, those who file taxes jointly alongside someone with a Individual Taxpayer Identification number versus a Social Security number could receive direct payments. 

Unemployment benefits increased under the bill, with those out of work and self-employed receiving $300 per week until the middle of March. 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program received an additional $13 billion from the legislation, as their services have become more and more necessary throughout the pandemic. 

Many Americans left unable to pay rent may benefit from the $25 billion to assist in covering rent costs along with an extension on the eviction moratorium, currently in effect until Jan. 13.  

COVID-19 Testing, Tracing and Vaccinations

To advance efforts to assist the county in combating COVID-19, the legislation provided $20 billion for vaccine purchasing and accessibility, $20 billion for COVID-19 testing and $8 billion to facilitate the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Access to Internet 

With many students and families learning and working from home due to the pandemic, $7 billion of the bill works to increase accessibility to the internet. This also includes the Emergency Broadband Benefit designed to help those in need afford broadband access. 

Funding for Education 

Schools and universities received $82 billion in funds in order to facilitate the reopening of schools. Private schools serving grades kindergarten through 12th also received $2.75 billion. 

 Changes to FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid also received a renovation under the bill, simplifying the process for students and their families. Federal loans for $1 billion in debt to Historically Black colleges and universities was forgiven.  

Paycheck Protection Program Loans 

A total of $284 billion of the bill helps to fund the Paycheck Protection Program loans, which provides funds for small businesses. Under the new legislation, the loan program expanded to include funding for non-for-profits, television, radio and local newspapers. 

In addition to the expansion, $15 billion of the funds go to independent movie theaters, venues and cultural institutions, all of whom faced forced closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For childcare, the legislation also allows for the distribution of $10 billion to child care centers in an effort to assist centers in the reopening process. 

Funds for Farmers 

The bill included $13 billion in funds for agricultural programs through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. A total of $11.2 billion of the funds belong to the Office of the Agriculture Secretary, $870 million for both the dairy donation program and supplementary Dairy Margin Coverage Program and $300 million for the Commerce Department to be used to assist fisherman and fisheries across the country. 

For nutrition research, the bill allocated $200 million over the next ten years for new options and innovations in nutrition research. Both the Local Agriculture Market Programs and crop block grant programs received $100 million and $75 million given to assist in training farmers and the Gus Schumacher nutrition program. $60 million of the funds allocated went to interstate shipment grants and $28 million for programs assisting with farm stress. 

Assistance for Transportation 

In order to facilitate transportation, a total of $45 billion of the bill was given to airlines, agencies, highways and Amtrak. A large portion of the funds, $16 billion, went to airlines in order to pay workers and $14 billion went to agencies supporting mass transit. Highways received $10 billion and Amtrak received $1 billion. 

Transparency in Medical Costs and Billing 

Under the legislation, surprise costs during billing for medical expenses have ended. Patients must now receive an estimated cost three days prior to a scheduled medical procedure, with disputes possibly subject to adjudication.


The legislation includes a tax credit to employers currently offering their employees the option for paid sick leave if necessary. Under the bill, meals also became a deductible business expense. 

To learn more about the bill or to see it in its entirety, click here.