U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today highlighted benefits to Mississippi in an omnibus appropriations and COVID-19 relief package approved by the Senate late Monday night.

The comprehensive package with all 12 FY2021 appropriations bills and $892 billion in targeted pandemic relief (HR.133) now heads to President Trump for his consideration.

“This year has been anything but conventional and that includes the unwieldy legislation to maintain federal programs and to continue the fight against the coronavirus,” Hyde-Smith said.

“I support the appropriations measures, and worked to include important funding for Mississippi and its citizens,” she added.  “In addition, including coronavirus relief in this legislation will ensure the timely delivery of benefits for working families, the jobless, small businesses, and our healthcare system.”

Hyde-Smith worked to advocate priorities for Mississippi and the nation in the FY2021 appropriations bills.  Notably, the final product includes these priorities:

  • National Defense – A $2.6 billion increase in defense funding to continue rebuilding the U.S. military and to provide servicemembers with a 3 percent pay raise;
  • Shipbuilding – $23.27 billion for 10 battle force ships including:  two DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class Flight III destroyers; an additional $130 million for long lead time material for a third DDG-51 destroyer in FY2022; one LPD-17 amphibious warship and addresses economic order quantity opportunities for LPD 32 and LPD 33; and $500 million to fund the advanced procurement of the LHA-9 amphibious assault ship.
  • Department of Defense Research Activities – $107 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation accounts to support Army, Air Force, Navy, Space Force, and Defense Department research initiatives, including multiple projects involving the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi State University, University of Mississippi, University of Southern Mississippi, and other Mississippi academic and industry partners.
  • USDA Disaster Assistance for 2018 and 2019 Losses – Repurposes $1.5 billion in previously appropriated funds to ensure that producers impacted by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019 can receive assistance under the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+).
  • Gulf of Mexico Water and Aquatic Habitat Quality – $20 million, $2.5 million above FY2020 enacted, for the Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program to address water quality and hypoxia problems in the Gulf.
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Projects – $74.1 million for 27 authorized flood control, navigation, and related projects and activities in Mississippi, including:  $22 million for operation, maintenance, and recreation at Mississippi flood control reservoirs (Arkabutla, Enid, Grenada, and Sardis Lakes), $30.6 million for operation, maintenance, and wildlife mitigation activities on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, and $14.7 million for dredging operations at ports in Gulfport, Pascagoula, Biloxi, Vicksburg, Greenville and Rosedale.
  • Surprise Medical Billing Fix – Includes the No Surprises Act to end surprise billings in which patients receive unexpected medical bills from their insurer due to out-of-network care.  Hyde-Smith cosponsored early versions of this legislation and called on Leadership to include this in the final package.
  • Pandemic Preparedness – $4.1 billion for Health and Human Services preparedness programs.
  • Overall Medical Research – $1.25 billion increase for National Institutes of Health medical research, bringing total annual funding to $42.9 billion.  This includes $3.1 billion specifically for Alzheimer’s research, a $300 million increase.
  • Telehealth Expansion – Eliminates Medicare restrictions to allow all beneficiaries to receive mental health services through telehealth on a permanent basis.  This is from Section 4 of the CONNECT for Health Act, introduced by Hyde-Smith and other Senate Telehealth Working Group members.
  • Member Pay Freeze – The bill continues a provision to freeze the pay of Members of Congress, preventing any pay increases in FY2021 as strongly advocated by some in the House of Representatives.  A freeze on Members’ salaries has been in place since 2009.  Hyde-Smith chairs the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee that held the line to retain the member pay freeze.

A broader summary of FY2021 appropriations items of interest to Mississippi is available here.

Coronavirus response and relief package repurposes more than $560 billion in unspent CARES Act funding to support new help for those most affected by the pandemic.  It would provide, among other things:

  • $8.75 billion to plan, prepare for, promote, distribute, administer, monitor, and track coronavirus vaccines
  • A second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for eligible small businesses, including restaurants and live-venue operations
  • $600 direct impact payments to eligible families and individuals
  • $300 per week for 10 weeks of federal unemployment benefits
  • $54.3 billion for elementary and secondary schools pandemic safety and other requirements, in addition to $22.7 billion for higher education and $4.1 million for the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund
  • $11.187 billion for the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture to support agricultural producers, processors, and contract growers affected by COVID-19

Summaries of major provisions in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 are available here.

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Release from Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.