Updates: Holiday Event Today, Federal Covid-19 Relief and Omnibus Budget Bills


December 21, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Updates: Holiday Event Today, Federal Covid-19 Relief and Omnibus Budget Bills

Access Living friends and allies:

Happy Winter Solstice! This morning, we’d like to alert you to a fun virtual Access Living holiday event today, as well as provide a short update on what we know about the federal Covid-19 relief bill and the federal omnibus budget bill. Read on.

Join Access Living for Our Holiday Hurrah!: Are you ready to celebrate this holiday season with your Access Living family? Are you looking for ideas to escape from isolation this winter? Come and join us for a FREE online holiday gathering today, Monday, December 21st from 4:30-6 pm Central time. The event is titled “Holiday Hurray: A Joyful Holiday Gathering with Access Living.” Join Access Living staffers Ryan McGraw, Dr. Angel Miles, and Sandie Yi for creative activities and conversations. Bring food, objects, clothes, feelings, memories about holidays for an online show and tell. What are you waiting for? Register via Zoom at this link—you must register to participate. The event will have ASL, CART, and Spanish translation.

Update on Federal Covid-19 Relief Bill: After months of no progress, Congress has finally arrived at a new $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill. The status of the bill has changed every few hours for several days, but as of this morning the bill appears ready to pass through both houses of Congress today. The bill includes several items that will be helpful for many people with disabilities, such as $25 billion in rental assistance and an extension of the federal eviction moratorium till January 31, as well as $13 billion in food stamps funding. The federal supplement to unemployment benefits would be renewed for 10 weeks at $300 per week, from Dec. 26 through March 14.

Many people will want to know about the stimulus checks in this bill. This time, one-time stimulus checks would be available to adults for up to $600 each, plus $600 for each child under 17. There is a phaseout based on income level; you would receive the checks only if you make less than $75,000 a year for individual filers, or $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. As with the previous round of checks, the funds would be direct deposited, but it’s unclear when people would actually see the money in their accounts. This is all we know at this time as we wait for the bill to pass; more details will likely emerge this week.

Sadly, this Covid-19 relief bill does not include direct federal funding to relieve state and local governments, which will be challenging in 2021. The bill also does not include many things that disability advocates wanted, such as relief for home and community based services. The Center for Public Representation has maintained a helpful webpage on disability Covid-19 asks that is worth checking out. Overall, the new Covid-19 bill creates some relief but is not at the scale that our economy fully needs; nor is it fully inclusive of disability needs.

Update on Federal Omnibus Budget Bill: Congress is also set to pass a $1.4 trillion federal omnibus budget bill. An omnibus budget bill is a massive bill that brings together many smaller budget bill items into one giant bill that can be passed with only one vote in the Senate and one vote in the House. Originally, Congress had to meet a deadline of Friday last week to pass this bill to prevent a federal government shutdown. To gain more time to work on it, they passed two very short term extensions over the weekend, but hope to make the final vote today. The bill language has not yet been released publicly despite the expectation that Congress will vote on it today. So, keep a close eye on the news for the status of the omnibus bill as well.

Please share this email with fellow disability advocates. Thank you for your advocacy all year round!