March 26, 2020

Summary of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Last night, the Senate began the process of final passage of the third Coronavirus supplemental, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The House is due to close-out the process and send it to the President’s desk Friday morning.  

The bill is essentially divided into two sections – one covering primarily unemployment and tax provisions and the other Appropriations.  Given the enormity of the 890-page, $2 trillion package, this summary focuses on the $330 billion in new spending, highlighting the priorities relevant to emergency managers.  The Senate Appropriations Committee provided Majority and Minority summaries covering more detail.   

Below are the highlights from the various departments with a nexus to ongoing emergency management activities (after DHS, departments are listed alphabetically):

Department of Homeland Security

Includes a total of $45.873 billion in funding including: 

  • Emergency Management Performance Grants – $100 million for state, local,territorial, and tribal governments to support coordination, communications, and logistics. 
  • Disaster Relief Fund– $45 billion (of which $20 billion is for Base DRF activities) to provide for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments.  The committee summary specifically notes eligible expenditures under emergency declarations to include medical response, personal protective equipment, National Guard deployment, coordination of logistics, safety measures, and community services nationwide. 
  • Emergency Food and Shelter Program – $200 million for shelter, food, and supportive services to individuals and families in sudden economic crisis. 
  • Assistance to Firefighter Grants – $100 million for personal protective equipment. 
  • FEMA Administration – $45 million to expand information technology and communications capabilities. 
  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency– $9 million for supply chain and information analysis and for impacted critical infrastructure coordination. 
  • REAL ID Deadline – Extends the deadline for states to meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act to not earlier than September 30, 2021. 
  • Transfer Limitation – A general provision is included limiting the use of funds provided in this title from being used for any other purposes.

Department of Agriculture

Includes $48.9 billion for USDA and the Food and Drug Administration including: 

  • $15.5 billion in additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs
  • $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program to manage increased needs of food banks.   
Department of Commerce
The bill provides $1.5 billion for economic adjustment assistance to help revitalize local communities through the Economic Development Administration (EDA).  EDA assistance can be used to help rebuild impacted industries, capitalize local funds to provide low-interest loans to businesses of all sizes, and support other locally-identified priorities. 

Department of Defense
Includes $10.5 billion, primarily for the protection of members of the Armed Forces and their families, but also for specific efforts which leverage the department’s capabilities in contributing to a whole-of-government response including: 
  • $1.4 billion for deployments of the National Guard – This funding is intended to sustain up to 20,000 members of the National Guard, under the direction of the governors of each state, for the next six months. 
  • $1 billion for the Defense Production Act – To allow the department to invest in manufacturing capabilities to increase the production rate of personal protective equipment and medical equipment.   
  • $1.5 billion for expansion of military hospitals and expeditionary hospital packages – To alleviate the anticipated strain on both the military and civilian healthcare systems, these funds will nearly triple the 4,300 beds available in military treatment facilities today. 
Health and Human Services 
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies, including: 
    • $1.5 billion to support States, locals, territories, and tribes in their efforts to conduct public health activities, including: purchase of personal protective equipment; surveillance; laboratory testing to detect positive cases; contact tracing to identify additional cases; infection control and mitigation at the local level to prevent the spread of the virus; and other public health preparedness and response activities. 
    • $1.5 billion in flexible funding to support CDC’s continuing efforts, including repatriation and quarantine efforts, purchase and distribution of diagnostic test kits (including for state and local public health agencies) and support for laboratory testing, workforce training programs, combating antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic resistant bacteria as a result of secondary infections, and communicating with and informing public, state, local,and tribal governments and healthcare institutions. 
  • Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response– $127 billion for medical response efforts including: $100 billion for a new program to provide grants to hospitals, public entities, not-for profit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers and institutional providers to cover unreimbursed health care expenses or lost revenues.
Housing and Urban Development 
  • Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) – $5 billion for CDBG for economic and housing impacts, including the expansion of community health facilities, child care centers, food banks, and senior services.  The bill eliminates the cap on the amount of funds a grantee can spend on public services, removes the requirement to hold in-person public hearings in order to comply with national and local social gathering requirements, and allows grantees to be reimbursed for COVID-19 response activities regardless of the date the costs were incurred.  

  • Rental Assistance Protections for Low-Income Americans– $3 billion is included for housing providers to help more than 4.5 million low-income households made up of more than 9.6 million individuals currently assisted by HUD to safely remain in their homes or access temporary housing assistance.
Department of Labor
The bill includes $360 million for the Department of Labor (DOL) to invest in programs that provide training and supportive services for dislocated workers, seniors, migrant farm workers, and homeless veterans.  This also includes funding for DOL agencies to ensure new Paid Leave and unemployment insurance benefits are implemented swiftly and effectively. 

Department of Justice
The bill includes $850 million for the Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne-JAG) allowing state and local police departments and jails to meet local needs, including purchase of personal protective equipment and other needed medical items and to support overtime for officers on the front lines.  

The bill also includes $100 million for the Federal Bureau of Prisons to respond with resources that can be used to meet urgent needs such as purchase of personal protective equipment and other medical equipment, funding overtime, and cleaning facilities.

Other Agencies 
  • Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – $70 million to USACE to prepare for and respond by providing additional equipment, licenses, and IT support to improve teleworking capabilities and ensure secure remote access for Corps staff. Funding will also improve capacity for remote operations of USACE projects and activation of Emergency Operations Centers nationwide to support continued operations of USACE projects. 
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) – $562 million to ensure SBA has the resources to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to businesses that need financial support.  SBA has signed emergency declarations for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories, so the EIDL program will be available to assist small businesses. This funding is in addition to the significant assistance provided in the Keeping American Workers Employed and Paid Act, which authorizes $350 billion worth of 100 percent guaranteed SBA loans, a portion of which SBA will forgive. This small business package also includes $10 billion in direct grants for businesses that do not qualify for the EIDL program, and $17 billion to have SBA make six months of principle and interest payments for all SBA backed business loans.

The full text of Division B covering the above-mentioned highlights can be found here.

This summary is provided courtesy of the NEMA Legislative Committee. Should you have any questions, please contact:   

Matt Cowles, NEMA Deputy Director; 202-624-5459; 

Lauren Goodwillie, Policy Analyst; 202-624-5458;


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