Biden’s $1.9T ‘COVID’ Bill Funds Abortion, NEA, NEH, EPA, Public Housing and Food Stamps

Terence P. Jeffrey | February 28, 2021 | 2:44pm EST
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(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

( - The $1.9 trillion ‘COVID-19” relief bill that passed the House on Saturday—it’s called the “American Rescue Plan Act”--includes funding for Planned Parenthood, abortion, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Environmental Protection Agency, public housing programs and food stamps.

The bill, which will now be considered in the Senate, passed the House by a vote of 219 to 212. All but two Democrats voted for it. No Republicans did.

The Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce committee had unanimously voted down including the Hyde Amendment in this bill, which would have prevented its funds from being used to pay for abortions.

“Republicans are disappointed that Subtitle A opens the door to federal funding of elective abortions,” the committee Republicans stated in the committee report on the bill.

“Every Democrat voted against including the Hyde Amendment protections in Subtitle A,” the report said. “The Hyde Amendment prevents all other federal funds for the Department of Health and Human services appropriated through the discretionary appropriations process, and also mandatory health spending, from being used to fund abortion in the cases where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term, or in the case of rape or incest.

“Since 1976,” the report said, “Hyde, and similar policies governing other federal programs, have been supported and. Renewed annually on a bipartisan basis, multiple times, for decades.

“Because there are not Hyde Amendment protections many provision in Subtitle A, particularly where funds have been authorized for broad purposes for the provision of health services that are not directly related to preventing and treating COVID-19, will support elective abortions,” the report said.

“For example,” it said, “section 3036 authorizes $50 million in mandatory funding for grants and contracts under section 1001 of the Public Health Services Act which is the Title X Family Planning Program. First, it is unclear to Republicans how Title X funding will reduce transmission of, and illness and death caused by, COVID-19. This funding is being authorized on the heels of President Biden direction the Department of Health and Human Services to reverse the ‘Protect Life Rule,’ a rule that prohibited Title X-funded family planning services to be performed at the same location where abortions are provided. Since existing Title X appropriations have been obligated to non-abortion providing entities, section 3036 is just a way to direct taxpayer dollars to abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood.”

According to the summary of the bill in the committee report, Section 2021: “Provides $135,000,000 for the National Endowment for the Arts.” This is on top of the $167,500,000 that was already budgeted for the NEA in fiscal 2021. Section 2022: “Provides $135,000,000 for the National Endowment for the Humanities.”  This is also in addition to the $167,500,000 that was already budgeted for the NEH in fiscal 2021.

The bill also makes large increases in the food stamp program, which the government calls the “supplemental nutrition assistance program.” This expenditure, which exceeds a billion dollars, is included in “Section 1011” of the bill.

“This section also provides $1,115,000,000 to the Secretary of Agriculture, $1,135,000,000 of which shall be for the Secretary to make grants for each of fiscal years 2021 through 2023 to each State agency for the costs of State administrative expenses associated with the supplemental nutrition assistance program,” the committee report says.

“The remaining $15,000,000 is made available to the Secretary of Agriculture for necessary expenses for management and oversight of the supplemental nutrition assistance program,” it says.

The report goes on to say: “Section 1012 provides $25,000,000 for. The Secretary of Agriculture to make technological improvements to online purchasing in the supplemental nutrition assistance program, to modernize electronic benefit transfer technology, to support the use of mobile technologies, and to provide technical assistance to educate retailers on such technologies. These funds remain available until September 30, 2026.”

This funding is apparently designed to make it easier for food stamp recipients to order groceries for delivery to their home using a mobile phone.

The bill also includes environmental provision.

“Subtitle D would appropriate $12.8 billion for environmental protections, utility assistance, distance learning, and other consumer product safety,” said the committee report.

“Within subtitle D, chapter 1 would appropriate $5.1 billion to appropriate fund activities related to environmental health and assistance to people for paying utility bills,” it said. “$0.1 billion to the environmental Protection Agency for grants and other activities that enhance environmental justice and to support implementation of the Clean Water Act. $4.5 billion to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program; and $0.5 billion for grants to assist low-income households with the costs of drinking water and wastewater services.”

The bill also funds rental assistance and housing vouchers.

“Subsection (a),” the report said, “provides that in addition to amounts otherwise made available, $19,050,000,000 is appropriated to the Secretary of the Department of Treasury (Treasury) for fiscal year 2021 to remain available until September 30, 2027 to make payments to eligible grantees under this section. $305,000,000 is reserved for U.S. territories. $30,000,000 is reserved for Treasury to administer emergency rental assistance programs and provide technical assistance to recipients of any grants provided by the Treasury to provide financial or other assistance to renters.”
“Subsection (d),” the report continued, “provides that funds may only be used for (1) the provision of financial assistance, including rent, rental arrears, utilities and home energy costs, utilities and home energy costs arrears, and other housing expenses; (2) the provision housing stability services; (3) program administration; and (4) other affordable rental housing and eviction prevention activities that server very low-income families. Eligible renters can receive up to 18 months of financial assistance.”

The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

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