Congressman Cohen Votes for Coronavirus Relief and Fiscal Year 2021 Spending

December 21, 2020
Press Release
Massive measure includes provisions for Memphis flood control, airport funding

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today voted for the Omnibus Appropriations bill containing full-year funding for the federal government for Fiscal Year 2021, and including $900 billion in much-needed coronavirus health and economic relief for millions during the first weeks of the Biden Administration. The bill contains in its entirety the Airport Readiness Act (AIR) Act which the Congressman introduced. The measure also includes major wins for Memphis, including the transfer of flood control obligations from the City to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and an airport funding formula assuring a solid support for Memphis International Airport.  

Congressman Cohen made the following statement: 

“My constituents know that the coronavirus health and economic relief established in this bill is long overdue. Much of its contents were in a House measure approved months ago. Nonetheless, I’m pleased it will begin flowing so that it can provide some measure of holiday cheer. The new year, and the new Biden Administration, provide reason for optimism on both the health and economic fronts.  

“I am hopeful that the relief elements of the bill, including a renewed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of forgivable loans, will be administered in keeping with the spirit of these times and go to the industries most affected, including small and minority-owned businesses. I’m pleased funding is specifically targeted to the restaurants, entertainment venues and movie houses that I have been calling for. 

“I’m pleased that my language, worked out in collaboration with the City of Memphis, is in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) contained in this measure, transferring the cost and obligation of Memphis flood control from the City to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I’m also glad it contains the Airport Readiness (AIR) Act that I introduced with Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska, that ensures that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) calculates Airport Improvement Program (AIP) entitlement grants based on Fiscal Year 2018 or 2019 enplanements, rather than on Fiscal Year 2020 enplanements, which are expected to be significantly lower due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Altogether, this bill is a welcome resolution of many complex issues just in time for the new year.” 

In addition to the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bills, the spending package approved by the House today contains $900 billion in emergency coronavirus relief to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people. Among its provisions, the bill provides: 

  • Billions in urgently need funds to accelerate the free and equitable distribution of safe vaccines to crush the virus;  
  • $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the COVID hunger crisis; 
  • A new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child; 
  • A $300 per week in unemployment insurance benefit enhancements for Americans out of work; 
  • $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools and $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open; An additional $3.36 billion for a total of $4 billion for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the international vaccine alliance, recognizing that we are not truly safe until the whole world is safe from the coronavirus;  
  • $284 billion for first- and second-round forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, including key modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits and better assist independent restaurants; 
  • $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions; 
  • $1.7 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions and certain other institutions; and
  • $25 million for the Minority Business Development Centers program under the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA).