WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Wednesday announced that key provisions he helped lead have been included in the final COVID-19 relief package. The provisions include  waiving federal income taxes on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 for households earning less than $150,000, and  dedicated investment in expanding broadband connectivity, particularly in unserved rural areas, to help families work and learn, and to access doctors, vaccine appointments, and job applications from home.
During the negotiations surrounding the new relief package, Gottheimer helped lead a request to Congressional leadership that tax relief for unemployed Americans be included within the bill, citing a recent survey which showed that almost 40% of Americans were not aware that unemployment benefits would be taxed — potentially leaving millions with a surprise tax bill this year.
Gottheimer also led a bipartisan effort to urge Congressional leadership to dedicate a portion of the $350 billion in COVID-19 relief to state and local governments to address broadband connectivity in rural areas.
“This new relief package builds on the bipartisan, bicameral emergency down payment we got signed into law back in December. It’s supported by a majority of Republicans and Democrats across the country. It will deliver critical lifelines for our families and communities, our restaurants and small businesses, to help schools reopen safely, to provide direct checks to our residents, and to continue expanding vaccine distribution in New Jersey and nationwide. This new investment is to help get our economy going, keep kids fed, get more vaccines in people’s arms, and ensure our businesses can thrive. We’re almost there, and this boost will help get us over the finish line,” Gottheimer said. “It’s important to remember that this new package includes provisions supported by both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress, like the broadband investment I helped lead to expand connectivity for underserved, rural, and lower-income communities. Being able to connect to quality internet services is not a luxury, it is foundational to our nation’s recovery and ability to successfully compete in a post-COVID economy.”
“The new package passing today also includes direct investment for every single county and town government across the Fifth District, as well as federal investment to improve local infrastructure — something that’s incredibly important for Northern New Jersey,” Gottheimer said.
The new COVID-19 relief package being considered in Congress for final passage includes:
- Support for Vaccine Development and Distribution: $14 billion to accelerate vaccine distribution and help ensure vaccine deployment to critical populations like educators.
- Testing, Contact Tracing, and Mitigation: $47 billion to help diagnose COVID-19 infections and prevent outbreaks.
- Federal Enhanced Unemployment Insurance (UI): Extends federal unemployment insurance supplements of $300 per week through September 6, 2021.
- Unemployment Benefits Federal Tax Exemption: Exempts the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits from 2020 federal taxes for families making under $150,000.
- Direct stimulus checks (Economic Impact Payments): $1,400 per individual earning less than $75,000 per year, phasing out at $80,000; $2,800 for joint tax filers earning less than $150,000 per year, phasing out at $160,000; as well as $1,400 per each eligible dependent, including adult dependents.
- State and Local Funding: Provides $350 billion in state and local funding, of which an estimated $6.43 billion will go to the New Jersey state government, $1.82 billion to New Jersey county governments, $1.16 billion to New Jersey city governments, and $573 million to New Jersey towns.
- Broadband & Infrastructure Funding: $10 billion to help states and localities invest in broadband and water infrastructure, as well as $7.2 billion for schools and libraries to improve broadband connectivity.
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and small business support: Provides an additional $7.25 billion for the PPP program and an additional $15 billion for the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance program.
- Revitalization Funds for Restaurants: Provides $28.6 billion for a new program at the Small Business Administration offering assistance to restaurants and other food and drinking establishments.
- Transportation (Transit, Amtrak, Airlines, Airports): $30.5 billion for public transit providers like NJ Transit; $1.7 billion for Amtrak; $15 billion to extend the Airline Payroll Support Program through September 30, 2021; $8 billion for airports, of which $800 million is for concessionaires; and $3 billion for a temporary payroll support program to retain or rehire aviation manufacturing workers.
- Defense Production Act of critical vaccines, vaccine supplies, PPE, and other COVID-19 health needs: $10 billion.
- Support for Health Care Providers: $8.5 billion for rural hospitals and facilities.
- K-12 Education Funding To Help Reopen Schools: $130 billion to help schools reopen safely by repairing ventilation systems, reducing class sizes and implementing social distancing guidelines, purchasing personal protective equipment, and hiring support staff to care for students’ health and well-being. Requires 20% of funding to be used to make up for lost learning.
- Higher Education: Invests nearly $40 billion for higher education.
- Support for Long-term Care Facilities: Invests in strike teams to assist nursing home facilities in managing COVID-19 outbreaks when they occur.
- Housing and Rental Assistance: Invests $21.55 billion in additional Emergency Rental Assistance funding, $5 billion for Emergency Housing Vouchers, and almost $10 billion to assist homeowners pay their mortgage and utilities.
- Nutrition/Agriculture: Continues the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September 30, 2021, includes more than $800 million in additional WIC funding, and includes an extension of the remote learning school meals program through the P-EBT program.
- Child Care: Provides $39 billion in child care providers through the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program.
- Mental Health: $4 billion for mental health services.
The new COVID-19 relief package includes the following estimated direct investments to Fifth District counties and local governments:
- Bergen County‘s government and the Bergen towns in the Fifth District will receive: $313.01 million
- Passaic County‘s government and the two Passaic towns in the Fifth District will receive: $101.11 million
- Sussex County‘s government and the Sussex towns in the Fifth District will receive: $36.50 million
- Warren County‘s government and the Warren towns in the Fifth District will receive: $26.93 million
The new COVID-19 package has widespread support across the nation and across the aisle: