Issue Brief 20-21
September 3, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress provided federal agencies with additional waiver authorities and flexibilities for some existing programs. These provisions are in addition to those triggered by an emergency declaration. Both existing and new authorities are time-limited, with specified end dates (such as the end of the fiscal year or calendar year) or end dates tied to emergency declarations (primarily the public health emergency declared by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]). A few provisions have expired, although the administration has extended or modified some of these.  

This Issue Brief highlights current deadlines and recent actions addressing them. Since many deadlines are tied to the public health emergency, it examines how the declaration works and how it relates to other federal emergency declarations. Table 1 at the end of the brief lists important deadlines that affect states.

Of note, this brief focuses on selected flexibilities and authorities; it is not comprehensive. For example, it does not cover the host of programs that received supplemental funding in relief legislation and the associated deadlines, flexibilities, and waivers from various requirements. This information is addressed in FFIS Budget Briefs describing the relief bills and in the state funding allocation spreadsheet for the coronavirus pandemic.