December 21,2020

Grassley Statement on Year-End Funding and Pandemic Relief Legislation

Washington Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) issued the following statement after Senate passage of the legislative package including COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus, tax and health care policy extensions and government funding.
On pandemic relief, Grassley said:
“It’s past time Congress acted to provide relief to the families, communities and small businesses suffering because of the pandemic. Senate Republicans have had multiple earlier attempts shot down and filibustered by Democrats. Today we overcame the division that had thus far stymied action.
“I’m glad that major provisions within the Finance Committee’s jurisdiction were part of this relief package. We will extend the federal enhancement to unemployment insurance. I secured important integrity measures to prevent more fraud in the UI benefits, and we included a careful phase out so beneficiaries won’t face the same cliff that many were worried about at the end of this year.
“The funding granted to states and localities under the CARES Act also needed to be used by the end of the year, meaning many would not be able to take full advantage of these resources. This legislation will extend the deadline another full year, so those entities can fully plan and properly utilize those resources. I introduced this policy as a standalone bill last August.
“There will be another economic impact payment to help families cover expenses. In addition to the other tax policies, we extend the employee retention tax credit developed on a bipartisan basis and passed as part of the CARES Act, which has helped many small businesses keep their workers on the payroll.
“For months, I’ve worked with a bipartisan group of senators to push Treasury toward accepting the congressional intent of the CARES Act, allowing for small businesses to deduct expenses related to PPP loans. I introduced a bill to clarify this incorrect, bureaucratic interpretation of the law. In a big win for small businesses, we fixed this as part of this package.
“Even with the news of vaccine distribution and success, the pandemic is still far from over, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This legislation will help us reach that end.”
(Section by section summaries of the UI provisions can be found HERE and the COVID-related tax relief policies—like economic impact payments—can be found HERE.)
On tax policy extensions, Grassley said:
“So many small- and medium-sized businesses critical to the economies of every state as well as individual Americans depend on the certainty of tax policy, especially in the uncertain times of a global pandemic. This is true for Iowans and their businesses.
“We’ve made permanent several important policies that were poised to expire and that have regularly faced uncertain renewals. The medical expense deduction, beneficial for so many Iowa families and seniors, has been extended in perpetuity. Importantly for rural America, the tax benefit for maintaining short-line railroads is now permanent. Craft beverage producers, like the many in Iowa and across the country who employ thousands of workers, will also benefit from a permanent reduction of the excise tax on beer, wine and distilled spirits.
“We’ve also extended several policies for a shorter period of time that should prove helpful to Americans as we round the corner on the public health crisis restrictions, like the work opportunity credit, the New Markets tax credit, the second generation biofuels production credit, the excise tax credit for alternative fuels and the employer credit for paid family and medical leave. I’ve long been a leading advocate for wind energy, and an extension for that production credit is in this legislation.
“This legislation also includes tax relief for Iowans affected by the derecho that devastated so much of our state this past summer, including expanded access to retirement savings, deduction for casualty losses, and hiring incentives for businesses affected by the storm.  We’ve also included additional low-income housing tax credits as requested by the Iowa Finance Authority.”
(Section by section summary of the tax extension provisions can be found HERE.)
On health policy extensions incorporated into the legislative package, Grassley said:
“This legislative package extends a number of important Medicare, Medicaid and other health policies, including boosting payments to doctors in Iowa and other rural areas. It also provides permanent coverage for mental health telehealth visits, which are helpful during the pandemic and will remain critical for many Americans afterward.
“I worked to ensure rural America would not go overlooked. We’ve secured a rural emergency hospital designation, extending the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration that helps a number of Iowa hospitals, and comprehensive payment reform for Rural Health Clinics. These programs will have a direct impact for Iowa health care providers and the patients they serve.
“Several provisions will also help Medicare beneficiaries, like allowing for coverage to start early for certain individuals and improved coverage for people who have had certain cancers or transplants. Rolling over unused Flexible Spending Account dollars into the coming year will help keep patients in control of their health care”
(Section by section summaries of the health policy extensions within the Finance Committee’s jurisdiction can be found HERE.)
On funding for critical new Elder Justice programs, Grassley said:
“This legislation also includes $100 million to support elder justice initiatives, including 50 million for state adult protective service agencies as they cope with unique challenges of serving vulnerable populations during the pandemic. I led an effort in the Senate to make additional resources available for these programs to assist older Americans, after convening two hearings last year on elder justice initiatives and gaps in nursing home oversight. I previously introduced legislation to extend funding for Elder Justice Act programs and boost the response to COVID-19 in nursing homes.”