Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Breaking Down $3.4 Trillion in COVID Relief

Jan 7, 2021 | Other Spending| Economics

With the passage of the Response & Relief Act, Congress has now allocated nearly $4.5 trillion of COVID relief at a net cost of over $3.4 trillion. While we work to update our comprehensive tracker at COVIDMoneyTracker.org, this analysis highlights the major sources of COVID relief.

All but around $15 billion of COVID relief come from four pieces of legislation — the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement (PPPHCE) Act, and the recently-enacted Response & Relief Act. Of the $3.4 trillion in relief from those four bills, $1.9 trillion results from the CARES Act, $935 billion from the Response & Relief Act, and the remaining $580 billion comes from the other two bills.

As we categorize the relief, about $960 billion went toward small business grants and loans, $585 billion toward expanded unemployment benefits, $460 billion toward rebate checks, $420 billion toward spending on health care and health providers, and $340 billion toward various types of state and local aid. Importantly, the figures below focus on our latest estimates of the ten-year deficit impact and not on the amount of funding allowed in each category.

Estimated Deficit Impact of Major COVID Relief Legislation (billions)

  Families First CARES  PPPHCE Response & Relief  Total
Small Business Support^ - $375 $255 $325 $960
Unemployment Benefits $5 $460 - $120 $585
Recovery Rebates - $290 - $165 $460
Health Care Spending $90 $160 $100 $70 $420
State and Local Aid* $85 $175 - $80 $340
Tax Relief $25 $265 - $40 $330
Other Spending $20 $170 - $135 $325
Total COVID Relief (Net Cost) $225 $1,900 $355 $935 $3,415

Rounded to nearest $5 billion. 
Source: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget based on CBO, JCT, and other sources.
 ^We assume the PPP from the CARES Act cost based on its initial score and allocate all returned or unused funds to the PPPHCE
*Includes Coronavirus Relief Fund money and funding for public schools, transit, and existing Medicaid costs.

Importantly, others may categorize or allocate COVID relief differently than we do, or have slightly different estimates of total deficit impact. Regardless, the total enacted relief is now larger than the response to the Great Recession, and the scale of support will likely propel personal income to its highest levels in American history this quarter. It will also widen near-term borrowing. The deficit last year was $3.1 trillion, and we project it is on track to total $2.3 trillion this year under current law. We will continue to monitor and track all the COVID-related bills, disbursals, and commitments at www.COVIDMoneyTracker.org

This blog post is a product of the COVID Money Tracker, a new initiative of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget focused on identifying and tracking the disbursement of the trillions being poured into the economy to combat the crisis through legislative, administrative, and Federal Reserve actions.