Federal Response and Recovery Resources
We’re all in this together. As the Pacific Northwest handles dynamic changes to the way it does business, Maul Foster & Alongi, Inc. is looking to find and share opportunities that can help our clients, communities, and region persevere and emerge stronger.
Maul Foster & Alongi is partnering with bipartisan, multidisciplinary federal relations firm Crossroads Strategies to provide you the most up-to-date federal news and resources available.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | May 12, 2021
“Build Back Better”: the Biden Administration’s agenda to rescue, recover, and rebuild the country
When the American Rescue Plan (ARP) was signed into law on March 11, 2021, it represented the third COVID-19-related federal law (following on the heels of the CARES Act of March 2020 and the Coronavirus Relief and Supplemental Appropriations Act of December 2020), adding $1.9 trillion in relief to individuals, businesses, and government entities. It was also the first step in President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, intended to provide relief and economic support, implement steps to contain the COVID-19 virus, and start the country on a path toward economic recovery. In addition to providing $195 billion to state governments, the ARP included $130 billion for local governments, an additional $10 billion for state and local government capital projects, and an additional $3 billion for the Federal Economic Development Administration (FEDA). FEDA’s role is to provide grants to economically distressed communities to generate new jobs and stimulate industrial and commercial growth and development. As a result of the passage of the ARP, many local governments now have the chance to begin building back their economies after devastating losses caused by the pandemic.
The next step in the Build Back Better plan is the American Jobs Plan, introduced by President Biden on March 31. This plan is intended to make significant investment in America by creating jobs, rebuilding infrastructure, and positioning the country to become more competitive in the global marketplace. One focus area of the plan is investment in infrastructure, from highways, bridges, ports, and airports to water, electric, and high-speed broadband. For counties, cities, ports, and other local governments, this plan could make available significant additional funding to help update, improve, and develop infrastructure systems necessary to sustain and improve our communities. As the political negotiations swirl around the fate of this proposed law over the course of the next several months, local entities can use this time to evaluate their capital improvement programs, identifying and positioning their infrastructure projects to take advantage of this funding, should it become available.
A third significant component of the Build Back Better plan is the American Families Plan. This plan is geared toward investment in education, health care, and childcare, with the aim of improving inclusivity, quality of life, and economic possibilities for middle-class families across the U.S. The three main initiatives of the American Families Plan are to increase access to and make education more affordable; provide economic security for families through expanded childcare benefits; and expand tax provisions that benefit workers and families, such as the Child and Dependent Care and Earned Income Tax Credit.
Information on all three aspects of the administration’s Build Back Better plan is available at www.whitehouse.gov/american-jobs-plan.
MFA offers free economic stimulus webinar May 27
Learn how to position your agency and community to receive stimulus funding: attend a quick, informative webinar presented by Maul Foster & Alongi, Inc., in partnership with Crossroads Strategies, LLC. Our multidisciplinary team will show you how to navigate the competitive grant funding and financing processes to help push your infrastructure improvement plans forward.
This virtual webinar will be hosted via Zoom on Thursday, May 27, from noon to 1 p.m. Join us to learn about:
- Positioning your agency and community to receive funding through federal stimulus programs
- What it means to get your project “shovel ready”
- How federal funds may be funneled through existing state funding programs
- Possible funding availability and timing
- Eligibility for specific grant programs
- Capital projects likely to have economic and job growth outcomes
- Capital project readiness and prioritization for competitive funding
The webinar is free to all attendees. You must register at https://www.maulfoster.com/the-2021-economic-stimulus-webinar to attend.
USDA seeks grant applications to expand distance learning and telemedicine access for rural areas
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development is accepting applications for grants to improve access to distance learning and telemedicine in rural areas. Applications must be submitted electronically through grants.gov no later than June 4, 2021.
Up to $44.5 million is available nationwide this year through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program. The grants can be used to finance telecommunications equipment, computer networks, and advanced technologies to support virtual job training, academic instruction, or access to specialized medical care in rural areas.
Most state and local government entities, federally recognized tribes, nonprofits, for-profit businesses, or consortia of these are eligible to apply. Find more information on this grant and the application process.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | October 20, 2020
Crossroads Strategies 2021 Policy Outlook
As the 2020 campaign season enters its waning days, Crossroads Strategies has provided this broad overview of policy issues in the next Congress and how the outcomes of the upcoming elections might impact their consideration. CRS will provide additional in-depth analysis of more specific policy issues in the weeks following November 3rd. Read the report.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | September 10, 2020
Vote on “Skinny” COVID-19 Relief Bill Blocked
Senate Republicans’ targeted COVID-19 relief package that was introduced last Monday failed on a mostly party line vote on Thursday. The legislation included liability protections for businesses and schools; $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits through December 27, 2020; an additional round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program; funding for schools across the country; and $10 billion for the United States Postal Service.
The vote was mostly along party lines. Democrats said the measure shortchanged many pressing needs and objected to reductions previously approved by Republicans. It is anyone’s guess as to whether the two parties will return to the negotiating table before the election. Meanwhile, the $300 jobless benefit from the Trump administration is running out with unemployment increasing because of health issues and an economy that is still struggling.
2021 Federal Stimulus Likely to Focus on “Shovel Ready” Infrastructure Projects
Maul Foster & Alongi’s Washington, D.C.-based partner, Crossroads Strategies, tells us that not much is likely to happen in Congress this fall, but we should all be prepared for federal stimulus programs and grants in early 2021. These programs and grants could look markedly different depending on the outcomes of federal elections, so we are encouraged to remain flexible as we plan for a new round of funding next year.
Projects that will be successfully funded will likely be those that are “shovel ready,” meaning projects that have advanced into their design and permitting processes and are poised for construction. Therefore, it may be prudent for public entities to move their critical projects to this phase as quickly as possible.
Future grants will likely focus on traditional infrastructure investment such as roads, marine facilities, and utilities. Depending on outcomes of the 2020 elections, there may also be a strong emphasis on environmental protection and projects that address the impacts of climate change.
We recommend monitoring the potential reinstatement of federal environmental regulations, either via Congress or executive action.
The federal programs and grants we are monitoring include:
- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
- National Defense Authorization Act
- Great American Outdoors Act
- America’s Water Infrastructure Act 2020 (AWIA 2020), formerly known as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)
- Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants
- Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants, formerly known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants
- Assistance from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants
Funding Opportunities and Updates | July 14, 2020
Congress to Begin Negotiations on Next COVID Relief Package
Senate Republicans are expected to propose a new COVID-19 relief package soon. Early indications are that this bill will contain between $1 and $2 trillion in new funding—at least $1 trillion less than the House’s proposed package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act.
Senate Republicans are expected to include the following in their proposed COVID-19 relief package:
- Additional individual assistance: Senate Republicans have indicated a second round of direct payments to individuals is under consideration. The Senate bill may be similar to the HEROES Act language, with direct payment of $1,200 per person and up to $5,000 per family.
- Extended unemployment benefits: Senate Republicans may propose extended federal unemployment benefits through January 2021, though potentially at a level below the current $600 per week in additional benefits adopted in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Senate Republicans are also discussing a “Return to Work” bonus to encourage individuals to resume available jobs.
- Assistance to states and local governments: With many states in fiscal duress, Senate Republicans are expected to propose additional assistance to states and local governments below the House-proposed level of nearly $1 trillion for states, local, tribal, and territorial governments.
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Technical changes, eligibility expansions, and additional funding are under consideration. One proposal apparently gaining traction is a bipartisan effort to aid the restaurant industry through the PPP.
- Healthcare: Senate COVID-19 legislation will provide additional funding to support testing for the virus and provide funds for hospitals.
- Education: Senate Republicans will emphasize opening schools in the fall, with additional funding to aid local schools.
- Defense: Senate Republicans are likely to provide significant funding for Section 3610 of the CARES Act to address problems with numerous Department of Defense (DoD) contracts and with the industrial base related to COVID. It is speculated that the DoD has identified a need for approximately $40 billion to address COVID-related program challenges.
Despite the anticipated struggle to reach agreement on the next COVID relief package in July and early August, members of Congress in both bodies seem to desire agreement and outcomes that are beneficial for the nation. Many members are looking for a bipartisan outcome like the CARES Act, which was widely viewed as Congress at its best, coming together for the country. That same spirit should result in a bipartisan COVID relief bill that President Trump will sign as Congress breaks for August, the political conventions, and approaching national election.
Paycheck Protection Program Extended to Aug. 8
On July 4, President Trump signed legislation that extends the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) until August 8, 2020. The legislation passed by unanimous consent in both the House and the Senate. The program, which is administered through the U.S. Small Business Administration, has over $100 billion available for use.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | June 2, 2020
McConnell: Additional Federal Relief Package Likely | Ports and Federal Recovery Legislation | HUD Indian Community Development Block Grant Funds Available | USDA Business and Industry CARES Act Program | USDA Funds Available for Strategic Economic and Community Development | National League of Cities Kicks Off Federal Funding Advocacy Campaign
On May 26, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress will likely have to pass an additional coronavirus relief package in the coming weeks, though he did not commit to a hard timeline.
Leader McConnell said the potential relief package will have a narrower scope than the recently passed House package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The HEROES Act approves about $3 trillion in new federal spending, including a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks; $200 billion in hazard pay for essential workers; six additional months of COVID-19 unemployment; funding for state, local, and tribal governments, and food and housing assistance.
The Majority Leader stated he believes an additional relief package will include liability protections for doctors and businesses across the country, additional funding for state and local governments that have seen expenses increase and revenues decline as a result of COVID-19, and an extension of unemployment insurance that is funded for as long as needed.
The status of ports under this funding plan and under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in general is unclear. Port supporters have lobbied to have ports, as local governments, explicitly named as eligible funding recipients. However, the references to population in the CARES Act suggest that the bill’s authors view “municipalities” as cities and towns. Ports could be eligible to receive funding through states, counties, and cities. This will be an important point of clarification as legislation and regulations are developed.
The CARES Act provides for up to $100 million in Indian Community Development Block Grant Imminent Threat funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic for emergencies that constitute imminent threats to health and safety. These funds will be administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and provided as grants to eligible Indian tribes.
There is no application deadline. Click here for more information on these funds and the grant application process.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the pandemic. Entities that may be eligible for these guarantees include for-profit businesses, nonprofits, cooperatives, federally recognized tribes, and public bodies.
The deadline for applications is Sept. 15, 2021, or until funds are expended. Learn more and apply at www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/business-and-industry-cares-act-program.
Attend an upcoming Business and Industry CARES Act program webinar:
Register Now| Wednesday, June 3, 2 p.m. Eastern Time
USDA Rural Development is accepting applications for projects that support regional economic and community development planning. Funding is authorized through a Farm Bill provision for applications submitted through Community Facilities Loans, Grants, and Loan Guarantees; Water and Waste Disposal Program Loans, Grants, and Loan Guarantees; and Business & Industry Program Loan Guarantees.
Funds must be obligated by June 30, 2020.
For more information on requirements and application deadlines, visit www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/strategic-economic-and-community-development. Information is available in English and Spanish.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is advocating for at least $500 million in federal funding to help cities, towns, and villages get direct federal dollars that will facilitate our country’s reopening and help restart the local and national economies.
Find more information on NLC’s advocacy, take action, and discover municipal tools and resources at https://covid19.nlc.org/cities-are-essential/.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | May 14, 2020
On May 7, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the creation of the CARES Act economic development assistance program.
The program will be administered through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at Commerce, which received $1.5 billion in economic assistance grant funding under the CARES Act. Grants will be made through the EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance program, which will assess the needs of local and regional stakeholders.
The grants are expected to support a range of construction and nonconstruction projects in communities across the country.
Visit the EDA’s CARES Act Recovery Assistance page for more information and application requirements.
On April 21, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tom Carper (D-DE) released drafts of two pieces of water infrastructure legislation. The bills include draft water resources development legislation, titled America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, and draft drinking water legislation, titled the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020. Both draft bills build on the bipartisan success of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Trump.
The bills were scheduled for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in late April. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) serves as a minority member on the committee.
Relevant bill sections include:
- Section 1058. Report on barriers to infrastructure development at United States ports. This section requires the Secretary, within 180 days of enactment of this Act and in consultation with all relevant federal agencies, to submit a report on the barriers to infrastructure and capital improvement projects faced by ports and port authorities. The report must also examine the impact those barriers have on the strategic competitiveness of ports of the United States and provide recommendations to reduce those barriers.
- Section 3002. Grants to ports to reduce emissions from waterborne vessels. This section authorizes the USEPA to spend $20 million for each fiscal year 2021 and 2022 for grants to reduce emissions coming from waterborne vessels docked at U.S. ports.
On May 7, the Department of Commerce announced the allocation of $300 million for assistance to fishery participants for individual states, tribes, and territories. The Pacific Northwest Congressional delegation advocated strenuously for funding, and the West Coast secured more than one-third of available funding.
- Alaska: $50 million
- California: $18.35 million
- Oregon: $15.98 million
- Washington: $50 million
- Federally recognized tribes on the West Coast: $5.09 million
- Federally recognized tribes in Alaska: $1 million
Unfortunately, the State of Idaho did not meet the threshold for assistance.
These allocations will be used to address direct or indirect fishery-related losses as well as subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial impacts related to COVID-19.
California has become the first state to borrow money from the federal government as it struggles to continue paying out unemployment benefits. The state borrowed $348 million from the Treasury Department last week and received approval to borrow up to a total of $10 billion through the end of July. The money is to be used solely for unemployment benefits.
Other states have received approval for loans but have not yet borrowed. Illinois has been approved for $12.6 billion and Connecticut for $1.1 billion. Both states will use the money for their unemployment insurance funds.
If unemployment claims continue to rise, additional states are expected to follow suit. At least 20 states and jurisdictions do not currently have enough money in their unemployment coffers to pay benefits through a one-year recession.