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Roundup: Congressional Action on COVID Relief

| By CBPP
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CBPP

Both the House and the Senate have passed a fiscal year 2021 budget resolution and will work in the coming weeks to pass urgently needed COVID-19 relief legislation. We’ve excerpted below CBPP’s analyses thus far on provisions of the proposed relief package, including those written this week as House committees prepared to consider their bills. We’ll update this list as we release additional pieces.

Overview

House Relief Package Would Help Millions and Bolster the Economy
The House’s emerging economic relief package would provide needed help to tens of millions of people, reduce high levels of hardship, help school districts address student learning loss, and bolster the economy. While some modifications will likely be made as the legislation is finalized, Congress should move quickly to enact a relief package that reflects the priorities in this package, which is modeled on President Biden’s American Rescue Plan….

Budget Resolution Marks Important Step Toward Urgently Needed COVID Relief
The House and Senate last week passed the budget resolution for fiscal year 2021, a first step toward enacting much-needed COVID relief using the fast-track “reconciliation” process for high-priority fiscal legislation. The budget provides for a relief package costing up to $1.9 trillion and instructs various committees to craft the necessary legislation. Quickly advancing COVID relief legislation scaled to the challenges the nation faces isn’t just appropriate; it’s essential….

Federal Taxes

House Ways and Means COVID Relief Bill Includes Critical Expansions of Child Tax Credit and EITC
Two key tax credit provisions in the COVID relief legislation that the House Ways and Means Committee will consider this week would provide significant help to those on the fault lines of some of the pandemic’s worst economic effects. People who have lower incomes, are Black or Latino, have less than a college education, or work in face-to-face service occupations have long faced barriers to high-paying jobs and opportunity, which the pandemic and its economic fallout have widened. The House bill’s provisions making the full Child Tax Credit available to all children except those with the highest incomes (sometimes called making the credit “fully refundable”), and making an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit available to far more low-paid childless workers, would result in historic reductions of child poverty and provide timely income support for millions of people, including millions of essential workers....

Health

Health Provisions in House Relief Bill Would Improve Access to Health Coverage During COVID Crisis
COVID-19 relief legislation that House committees are considering includes several vital provisions that would make comprehensive coverage more affordable and accessible for millions of people. The legislation would enhance premium tax credits available through the health insurance marketplaces for two years, boost financial incentives for additional states to rapidly expand Medicaid, and enact other proposals to improve access to health coverage during the health and economic crisis. Consistent with a proposal President Biden outlined in January, the House bill would eliminate premiums for many low-income people who are already eligible for plans in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces and vastly reduce premiums for others….

Related blog post: Bigger Tax Credits, More Medicaid Expansion Would Make Health Coverage More Accessible and Affordable

Housing

Housing Assistance in House COVID Bill Would Prevent Millions of Evictions, Help People Experiencing Homelessness
The legislation that the House Financial Services Committee will consider this week to meet its reconciliation instructions under the House budget resolution includes critical housing assistance for millions of people who are struggling to pay their rent and avoid eviction, as well as badly needed resources to help communities address homelessness during the pandemic. The committee should quickly approve these measures, and the full House and Senate should enact them as part of the broader COVID-19 relief package that Congress will consider in coming weeks....

State Budgets and Taxes

House Budget Bill Provides Needed Fiscal Aid for States, Localities, Tribal Nations, and Territories
The sizeable revenue shortfalls and added costs that many states, localities, tribal nations, and territories face due to COVID-19 call for added federal aid that’s temporary but significant. The bill that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will consider this week to meet its reconciliation instructions under the House budget resolution would provide this essential aid and help ensure a strong recovery. Congress should act quickly to provide this aid or risk more public-sector layoffs and cuts in services for families and businesses as states and localities balance their budgets….

House Bill to Implement Biden COVID-Relief Plan Includes Much-Needed K-12 Funding
American schools sorely need additional funding to ensure that they can reopen safely and meet students’ educational needs, and the House Education and Labor Committee will consider legislation today to implement President Biden’s proposal for $130 billion in new, flexible funds for school districts over the next two-and-a-half school years — which would be the largest-ever one-time federal investment in K-12 education....

Food Assistance

Food Assistance in COVID Relief Bills Would Reduce Hardship, Provide Economic Stimulus
The nutrition changes that the House Agriculture Committee and Education and Labor Committee are considering this week to meet their reconciliation instructions under the House budget resolution include key investments to mitigate extraordinarily high levels of hunger and hardship. The committees should quickly approve the bills, and the full House and Senate should enact the changes as part of the broad COVID relief package that Congress will consider in coming weeks….

Related blog post: COVID Relief Bills Respond to Extraordinarily High Food Hardship

Economy

COVID Relief Package Includes Important Unemployment Benefit Extensions, But Duration Should Be Extended
The House Ways and Means Committee will consider legislation this week to extend critical unemployment benefit provisions that help unemployed people pay their bills and care for their families. The unemployment provisions before Ways and Means would ensure that current jobless benefit recipients who do not find a job could continue to receive benefits, including a $400 per week federal supplement on top of their state-determined benefit amount, through the last week in August. The legislation also extends full federal funding of Extended Benefits if high unemployment in a state triggers the program….

Family Income Support

Pandemic Emergency Fund Would Help Families With Lowest Incomes
The House Ways and Means Committee’s new COVID-19 relief proposals include a new $1 billion Pandemic Emergency Fund for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The new funding would provide much-needed resources to states, tribes, and territories to help families with the lowest incomes meet their added expenses or debt due to the pandemic....