Congress has passed the American Rescue Plan, which is expected to send $7.5 billion to Utah, directly to Utahns and to the state, counties, and cities. And Congress is looking to return to earmarking in the appropriations process and transportation reauthorization.

American Rescue Plan COVID Relief Bill Passes
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Senate's amended version of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319) by a vote of 220-211, officially sending the nearly $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief measure to President Joseph Biden for his signature and enactment into law. This past weekend, the Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote of 50-49, after the Senate had a marathon of amendment votes that lasted nearly 24 hours. The amended bill passed the House of Representatives yesterday on a party-line vote of 220-211 and President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law by Friday. 
The relief measure includes a new round of up-to $1,400 stimulus checks for millions of Americans, $360 billion for state and local governments, $130 billion for schools, and $30 billion in aid to transit districts. The bill also includes funding for food assistance, rental relief and coronavirus vaccine distribution. The legislation also authorizes an additional $300-per-week in unemployment payments until early September. 

Here is a link to a presentation and briefing video from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute about the relief bill and its potential impact on Utah. 

An estimated total $7.5 billion will come to Utah from this bill. This includes: 
  • $3.8 billion in direct payments to Utahns
  • $1.5 billion to the Utah state government
  • $1 billion in direct payments to Utah’s local governments.
  • $1.2 billion in the expanded child tax credit.

Please see estimated allocations prepared by multiple institutions, including the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and various House and Senate Committees of the direct federal funds for states, counties, metropolitan cities, and non-entitlement communities. Every locality in America will receive a direct allocation of federal funds. The allocations by jurisdiction are sorted by tab with non-entitlement communities included under the "non-county" tab. These estimates are not expected to change significantly, but potential adjustments by the U.S. Department of the Treasury are possible, based on Census numbers, to ultimately determine final allocations.

This funding can be used for responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, to offset revenue losses, bolster economic recovery and to increase pay for essential workers. The bill also provided a new $10 billion Critical Infrastructure Projects program to help States, territories, and Tribal governments carry out critical capital projects directly enabling work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to COVID-19.
State and local fiscal relief funds can be used for local economic recovery purposes, including revenue replacement, assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, assistance to hard-hit industries like tourism, travel, and hospitality, and infrastructure investment in water, sewer and broadband.

Here is a detailed summary of the entire bill. 
Congress Expected to Return to Earmark Spending
Congressional Democrats recently released plans to allow for Congressionally directed spending or “earmarks” in the upcoming FY22 Appropriations Bills for the first time since 2010. According to Democratic Congressional Leaders, these new earmarks, now termed “community project funding,” will be limited to 1% of total federal spending. Under a set of rules released by the House Committee on Appropriations, for-profit entities will be prohibited from receiving any earmark funding and Members of Congress will be limited to 10 community project requests, though only a handful may actually be funded. Additionally, all community project funding requests by Members of Congress will be transparent and published on a publicly available website.
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio has also announced that Members of Congress will be able to request earmarks in the upcoming Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill expected to be considered by Congress later this year. The rules for these transportation earmarks are not yet final, but it is expected that earmarks will be limited to projects that are already included in a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) adopted by the relevant Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) such as WFRC and/or State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) adopted by UDOT.
Congressional Republicans would be required to change the earmark moratorium in their House internal caucus rules and the Senate Republican’s permanent ban on earmarks in order to return to making requests for earmarked spending. House and Senate Republicans have been debating the merits of returning to Congressionally directed / community project funding. The outcome is yet to be determined, but we will know more in the coming weeks whether or not Republicans will be allowed under their own rules to participate in earmark requests for FY22 or the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill.

Andrew S. Gruber
Executive Director
C 801-824-0055