Congressman Cleaver Votes to Avert Government Shutdown Amid Coronavirus Pandemic and Economic Crisis
This week, United States Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) voted in favor of H.R. 8319, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, to avoid a government shutdown in the middle of a global pandemic and economic crisis. The Continuing Resolution (CR) would extend funding for government agencies through December 11, 2020, provide billions in additional funding for nutrition assistance programs, and includes H.R. 8089, the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act, which was co-introduced by Congressman Cleaver.
"Failure to fund the government in the middle of a global pandemic and economic crisis unlike anything we've seen in decades would be a catastrophic failure in leadership from the Administration and Congress," said Congressman Cleaver. "While I always prefer to avoid a continuing resolution, allowing the government to shut down in the midst of these crises would only further exacerbate the challenges we face as a nation. Now that we have funded the government, including critical programs like Pandemic EBT and SNAP, our next step should be to immediately pass a stimulus package to assist families and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic."
Included in the CR was the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act, a bill co-introduced by Congressman Cleaver to avoid federal employee furloughs at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by immediately increasing the agency's premium processing revenues. Last month, USCIS was scheduled to furlough over 13,000 of its 19,881 employees, including 2,000 of the 3,100 in the Greater Kansas City Area, which would have a devastating impact on workers and the agency's ability to provide immigration and naturalization services to American businesses and families for months, if not years, to come. While USCIS announced they would delay federal furloughs, the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act will ensure the agency has additional revenue needed to prevent furloughs of federal workers, while also providing more reliable and expanded services for premium processing applicants.
"While this is only a stopgap financing measure and we have more work to do to implement the guardrails needed to ensure efficiency and fiscal stability at USCIS, I'm proud we were able to put people before politics and pass this vital legislation to prevent thousands of federal furloughs," said Congressman Cleaver. "As we move forward, I will continue to seek out solutions for the contractors who have been laid off due to reductions in workflow during the coronavirus so that our legal immigration system is operating at full capacity."
Other notable provisions within the CR include:
Extends the Pandemic EBT program, which provides resources to families with children who would have otherwise received free or reduced-price meals in school but for pandemic-related school closures or reduced attendance hours, through September 30, 2021. It also expands the program to include children at child care centers effected by COVID-19 closures and reduced attendance hours.
Extends waivers for the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that were included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act until September 30, 2021.
Allows states to extend administrative flexibilities for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through September 30, 2021.
Allows the Food and Nutrition Service to spend at a higher rate to ensure the Summer EBT program is fully operational by May 2021.
Allows the Food and Nutrition Service to spend at a higher rate to provide supplemental U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food to low-income seniors (age 60 and over) and some low-income women, infants and children.
Provides further funding for the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) which provides payments for regular farm programs and the Market Facilitation Program.
Allows USDA to continue requiring reports on prices, contracts, and other purchasing information from cattle, swine, and sheep packers and processors to facilitate informed marketing decisions.
Allows USDA to continue to collect fees for grain inspection and weighing services, and to conduct activities related to grain export and domestic markets.
Extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through September 30, 2021.
Extends funding for Community Health Centers, National Health Service Corps, and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program through December 11, 2020.
Extends the Surface Transportation Program for one year.
Limits any increase to Medicare Part B premiums in 2021 to approximately $4 per month.
Increases and Extending funding for the Medicare Improvement Fund through Fiscal Year 2023.
Delays a scheduled $4 billion Medicaid DSH cut until December 12, 2021.