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$1400 Check Could be Coming Your Way Soon

February 22, 2021 by Reece Nations
The U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The House Budget Committee approved reconciliations to President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion novel coronavirus relief legislation Monday, setting in motion the bill’s final vote in the full House of Representatives expected to follow this week. 

If enacted, the legislation would provide $1,400 economic stimulus payments for individuals making up to $75,000 annually and couples making up to $150,000 annually, according to the Associated Press. Currently, the bill would not provide stimulus payments for individuals with annual incomes of $100,000 or greater or for couples with annual incomes of $200,000 or greater.

Further, the bill would expand the child tax credit to $3,000 for certain households and $3,600 for children under the age of 6, TWN previously reported. Other provisions include increased eligibility for the earned income tax credit, and other credits that would reimburse employers for their employees’ paid sick leave. 

“From the start, we have been upfront that the sole purpose of the budget resolution was to provide the option of using reconciliation to deliver critical relief and enact the American Rescue Plan,” Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said in his opening remarks. “That process has not precluded us from reaching a bipartisan agreement. But it has ensured that Congress can move forward and meet the needs of the American people with or without Republican cooperation.” 

House leadership intends to approve the bill and send it to the Senate before previously approved unemployment benefits expire on March 14, TWN previously reported. The committee’s approved version of the bill extends federal unemployment benefits through August. 

Ranking member Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., motioned early on to postpone debate on the bill until the White House’s Office of Management and Budget releases a detailed accounting of existing spent and unspent recovery funds. Smith’s motion failed by a vote of 14 in favor and 19 opposed. 

In his opening statement, Smith contended the bill would harm the country’s working-class by sending $510 billion to state and local governments “that only further reward state lockdowns.” 

“These lockdowns do not just hit a business’s bottom line or a family’s pocketbook,” Smith said. “When you board up local small businesses, you force kids out of school and parents out of work, (close) houses of worship, that can do real harm to the physical and mental health of individuals and families.” 

Smith warned congressional Democrats not to “shred the reconciliation process” by forcing through provisions mandating a federal wage hike to $15 an hour within the bill. In stating his objections, Smith cited the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that the policy would reduce employment by 1.4 million workers. 

The expansion of unemployment benefits under the bill fails to adequately address the needs of low-wage, disabled and less-educated workers, he said. Smith also maintained that half of Americans would earn more money from unemployment benefits than working should the bill pass.

Congress should consider the potential long-term fiscal implications of passing such a large bill, Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, said. Because the bill would have an adverse effect on federal budget deficit spending, Feenstra said in opposition of the bill that Democrats are ignoring the “grave consequences of plunging our country into further debt.” 

“Let’s call this bill what it really is — a partisan wish list filled with progressive promises to Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi’s closest friends,” Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., said. “Five-hundred billion is included for bailing out blue states and localities that mismanaged their budgets.”

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-profit and nonpartisan organization, concluded that increasing the public debt by almost $2 trillion to help mitigate the recession was a “worthwhile consequence,” TWN previously reported. However, CRFB warned in its findings this strategy presents inherent risks — like higher rates of inflation and shrinking the country’s economy by about $100 billion by the end of the decade while increasing the government’s amount of paid interest and principal on the debt. 

As staggering as the proposal’s $1.9 trillion price tag may be, more troubling is the nearly 500,000 domestic death toll wrought by COVID-19, Rep. Joseph Morelle, D-N.Y., said in defense of the bill. In his remarks before the committee, Morelle said leading economists across the political spectrum all agree the worst course of action Congress can take is to under-invest in COVID-19 recovery. 

But the bill’s presumptive passage by the Legislature comes at a desperate time for much of the country, Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Penn., said. In his remarks in defense of the bill, Boyle cited Gallup polling data indicating Biden’s proposal is widely popular among a majority of Americans. 

Boyle later motioned for the committee to report the bill to the House favorably and without substantive revision. Boyle’s motion passed by a margin of 19 in favor and 16 opposed. 

“Indeed, as Chairman Yarmuth pointed out in his opening, even a slight majority of Republicans support this plan,” Boyle said. “That’s because the American people know, regardless of party, that (the plan) is badly needed.” 

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