By Crystal Flynn, Digital Web Strategist
At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the federal government moved quickly to enact four major pieces of legislation to help offset potential economic, health and societal impacts of the global pandemic. As of Oct. 1, 2020, roughly $2.59 trillion in new budgetary resources had been made available for federal agencies.
An analysis from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Data Lab in collaboration with the St. Louis Fed explores how supplemental funding for COVID-19 makes its way from Congress to the American public and the economy. (At the time of publication, this data analysis reflected fiscal year 2020, or Oct. 1, 2019, to Sept. 30, 2020.)The Data Lab team is working on updating data from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Public Law No. 116-260) as well as data from fiscal year 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021).
The passage and signing of the four acts marked the funding phases.
Phase 1: The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act
Signed into law March 6, this act provided $8.2 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies. The funding was specifically for medical research, the development of vaccines and therapies, disaster loans, and foreign assistance.
Phase 2: Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Signed into law March 18, this act allocated $19 billion to support coronavirus testing; federal medical leave benefits for individuals, families and employers; enhanced unemployment insurance benefits; Medicare expansion; and supplemental food-security funding.
Phase 3: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
Enacted March 27, the CARES Act is the largest relief bill in American history, estimated at $2.08 trillion. The act was established to focus on the economic impact the pandemic was having on families and businesses, with most financial assistance targeted to companies, as well as state and local governments. For example, the act created the Paycheck Protection Program, which provided funds to small businesses to maintain payroll, rehire laid-off employees, and cover additional items like rent and utilities.
|Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act||$8.2 billion|
|Families First Coronavirus Response Act||$19 billion|
|Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act||$2.08 trillion|
|Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act||$483 billion|
|SOURCE: October 2020 analysis by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Data Lab, “How is the federal government funding relief efforts for COVID-19?”|
The act also provided economic relief to individuals and families. This included direct payments to mitigate income loss from the pandemic. The CARES Act also expanded unemployment coverage to offset lost wages and various payroll tax benefits to offset certain expenses.
Phase 3.5: Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act
An amendment to the CARES ACT, this law, signed on April 24, totaled around $483 billion and provided additional support for small businesses, government agencies and institutions. This included additional funding for Economic Injury Disaster loans and grants and for the Paycheck Protection Program. An additional $100 billion was allocated to medical care and research, with a large portion going to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund.
As discussed in a previous blog post, federal spending can be classified into two major categories:
When there is an urgent need for funding, Congress can enact supplemental appropriations in addition to those the federal government already provides and uses for emergencies or exceptional circumstances. One example of appropriations already provided is funding for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responses to natural disasters. Here are some of the steps:
The image below, which is from the Data Lab analysis, illustrates some of the steps.
This image is courtesy of an October 2020 analysis by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Data Lab, “How is the federal government funding relief efforts for COVID-19?”
As of Oct. 1, 2020, 90% of the $2.59 trillion in COVID-19 funding was appropriated to four federal agencies: the Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor departments, and the Small Business Administration.
Of that money, $1.27 trillion was allocated to lending and could be used to generate an estimated $3.92 trillion in loans and loan guarantees to businesses and individuals, as noted in the Data Lab analysis.
In addition, as of Oct. 1, the federal government made $1.79 trillion in obligations, of which $1.62 trillion was outlaid, according to calculations from federal agencies’ monthly reporting to the Treasury’s Governmentwide Treasury Account Symbol Adjusted Trial Balance System (GTAS).
For more information about federal government finances, check out Your Guide to America’s Finances, an interactive analysis that gives an overview.
1The Data Lab team is working on updating data from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Public Law No. 116-260) as well as data from fiscal year 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021).