Congress Approves 2021 Budget Authorizing COVID Relief Bill
Washington, DC – On February 5, 2021, the House and Senate both approved H. Res. 101 – the resolution setting federal budget levels for Fiscal Year 2021. This budget resolution authorized the $1.9 trillion in funding needed for the American Rescue Plan - President Biden’s COVID relief package for households, small businesses, local governments and the distribution of COVID19 vaccines - and it provided Congress the procedural tool - “reconciliation” legislation - to fast-track this much-needed COVID relief legislation. Congressman Doyle voted in favor of H. Res 101.
“Millions of Americans are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and they desperately need relief,” Congressman Doyle said after the vote. “That’s why I voted in favor of the 2021 budget. The time for action is now. We must pass the President’s relief plan to support our local businesses, get people back to work, and end this pandemic.”
Reconciliation is a process in which Congress changes existing laws to conform (“reconcile”) federal tax and spending levels to the levels set in a federal budget resolution for the coming year. It is a common method to pass changes in the tax or spending code and has been used by both parties, including, most recently, by Republicans to pass President Bush’s 2001 tax cuts. The use of budget reconciliation will allow Congress to get the American people the crucial COVID-related relief they need rapidly as possible, because it requires only a simple majority vote in the Senate.
The use of this tool does not preclude Congress from reaching a bi-partisan agreement on a COVID relief package, but it does ensure that relief will reach the people without delay by Republican filibusters or other dilatory tactics.
“I hope that there will be bi-partisan consensus on the next stimulus package, but I don’t want to see the American people short-changed by petty politics.” Congressman Doyle said. “Reconciliation will allow us to avoid this.”
The budget resolution provides reconciliation instructions to 12 House committees that have jurisdiction over some portion of the plan, and it requires the committees to report their part of the legislation to the House Budget Committee by February 16, at the latest.
“We must act decisively now to save lives and the economy,” Congressman Doyle added.
January 2021 saw the most deaths from COVID-19 in a single month since the beginning of the pandemic. The American Rescue Plan would include over $160 billion for direct COVID response, including funding to speed up vaccine distribution and expanded testing and contact tracing.
Inaction or inadequate investment by the government in the past has caused previous recessions to recover more slowly than possible. A Standard & Poor’s (S&P) analysis determined that President Biden’s American Rescue Plan would restore the economy to pre-pandemic levels by this summer, while a Moody’s Analytics assessment projected that the package would bring us to full employment a whole year faster than without it. This assessment also projected over 7.5 million jobs created in 2021 and 2.5 million created in 2022.
With a million American applying for unemployment benefits last week and over 23 million struggling to feed their families, the need for this aid has never been clearer,” Congressman Doyle said. “We will continue to find ways to provide the relief the people need to survive and end this pandemic.
Below are some details about the American Rescue Plan, highlighting the provisions that will help working Americans.
Speed Up Vaccinations, Contain the Virus, and Allow Schools to Be Safely Reopened
- Provides funding to create a national vaccination program and speed up the distribution of vaccines.
- Provides funding to expand testing and contract tracing programs across the country.
- Provides schools with the resources they need to reopen safely.
More Help for Working Families
- Another stimulus check. Working families would receive another direct payment of $1,400 per person.
- Expansion of the child tax credit. Parents would receive a monthly benefit of $300 per child for those age 5 and younger — and $250 per child ages 6 to 17 — for a year.
Relief for the Americans Hit Hardest
- Extending and expanding unemployment benefits.
- Strengthening and expanding federal nutrition programs to address the current hunger crisis.
- Providing funding for rental assistance and extending the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums until September 30, 2021.
- Providing funding for child care.
- Getting additional economic relief to many families by making the child tax credit fully refundable.
- Ensuring through COBRA, ACA and Medicaid the opportunity for unemployed and low-income Americans to obtain access to affordable health insurance.
Support for Struggling Communities
- Providing crucial resources to save the jobs of first responders, frontline public health workers, teachers, transit workers, and other essential workers that all Americans depend on.
- Providing additional assistance to small businesses to help stores on Main Streets around the country to stay open, keep their employees on payroll and continue serving a vital role in their communities.