WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) released the following statement on passage of the COVID-19 relief package and Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations:
“lowans need help as they continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Since this summer, I have pushed the Senate and White House to work together with the House on a bipartisan agreement that provides the relief hard working families need.
“While I’m happy to have helped pass a deal to help folks just before the holidays, this package will not come close to undoing the pain this year has brought — especially to those who have lost loved ones. The package passed today provides, to an extent, urgently needed help for families, small businesses and so many Iowans struggling under the hardships caused by this pandemic. However, stimulus checks should be higher, and more support given directly to Iowans who need it most.
“While I supported this deal reached by the House, Senate, and White House, it is my sincere hope that the next Congress and Administration will provide additional help to the families, businesses, and local Iowa communities who will still need it.”
Background on relief package and funding bill:
In addition to $600 direct payments to families, supplemental unemployment benefits, and funding for struggling small businesses, the COVID-19 relief package and end-of-year government funding bill includes a number of bills and provisions Congresswoman Finkenauer fought for on behalf of northeast Iowa.
- The package incorporates Finkenauer’s Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Extension Act, which will ensure “tweener” hospitals like Grinnell Regional Medical Center will continue to get enhanced reimbursements for the inpatient services they provide for the next five years.
- The package incorporates Finkenauer’s legislation to extend Medicare’s work geographic index floor for three years, ensuring fair reimbursements for physicians in rural areas.
- The package includes Finkenauer-supported legislation to extend Medicaid eligibility to citizens of the Freely Associated States lawfully living in the United States, including the many Marshallese residents of the First District.
- Includes the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, which Congresswoman Finkenauer helped craft and pass through the House. This bill will include policy provisions important to Iowans, including: additional investment in lock and dam infrastructure, changes to improve federal flood mitigation benefit-cost-ratio calculations like for flood protection construction, and Rep. Finkenauer’s amendment to cut red tape and improve communication between the US Army Corps of Engineers and local governments
- Secured increased funding for endometriosis research, allowing the National Institutes of Health to double their investment in endometriosis research from last year’s funding levels. Endometriosis research will now also be eligible for funding through the Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program.
- Includes a provision championed by Congresswoman Finkenauer that would increase the federal funding limit for the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area. The Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area encompasses 117 sites and attractions across Northeast Iowa, including scenic routes, farms, wineries, museums and more. The provision would increase the Area’s federal funding limit, enabling Silos & Smokestacks to continue telling the story of America’s agricultural history, as well as promoting tourism to Northeast Iowa.
- Provides a $10 million increase for the Defense Department’s Manufacturing Technology Program. This funding will be used to support the University of Northern Iowa’s Additive Manufacturing Center partnership with Youngstown State University on supply chain adoption of additive manufacturing, automation, and robotics. This funding and partnership will provide industry-tailored training, access to applied research, and technical assistance to small businesses, so that they can efficiently engage in the defense manufacturing supply chain.
- The package incorporates Finkenauer’s PPE Act to allow businesses to use Paycheck Protection Program loan money to cover the expenses of providing personal protective equipment to their employees.
- Includes provisions from Finkenauer’s Disaster RELIEF Act, which would provide tax relief to Iowans impacted by August’s derecho. Specifically, the package will provide direct tax relief for Iowa families and provide a tax credit to Iowa businesses to help retain employees following the disaster.