House Ways and Means Committee Begins Mark Up of COVID Relief Bill
WASHINGTON – The House Ways and Means Committee is meeting Wednesday to mark up sweeping COVID-19 legislation that the panel’s chairman, Rep. Richard Neal, of Massachusetts, says will enable Americans from all walks of life to better confront the lingering health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic.
Among the proposals being considered Wednesday is the issuance of $1,400 stimulus payments to individuals making less than $75,000 and couples earning less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income. Also eligible for payments under the Democratic plan are individuals who are considered dependents, including college students and disabled adults.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans have endorsed a plan to send up to $1,000 checks to individuals earning up to $40,000 per year and to couples earning $80,000 in adjusted gross income a year.
In addition, Chairman Neal said, the legislation being marked up Wednesday will “build on the special enrollment period that President Biden recently announced by making it even easier for unemployed workers to afford their health insurance” and “enhance and expand refundable tax credits for low- and middle-income workers and families.”
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that such expansions along with direct assistance, would provide an average income boost of 33% for the poorest 20% of households.
“This will be a major tool in lifting millions of children out of poverty and it will change lives,” Neal said.
The panel will also consider a provision that focuses specifically on stopping the spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes and another intended to shore up multiemployer pension plans that have been jeopardized by COVID-19.
In opening remarks before the committee Wednesday morning, Neil said “throughout this crisis,the Ways and Means Committee has led some of the most significant provisions in Congress’s COVID response legislation.
“Our members’ efforts have helped keep jobless workers afloat, families in their homes, and employees connected to their employers, all while giving first responders the resources they needed to fight this disastrous virus. This Committee’s quick, thorough work prevented even greater catastrophe and truly provided lifelines for Americans in need.
“However, we are far from the light at the end of the tunnel. Almost a fifth of the total deaths from the virus occurred in the last month and January’s jobs report showed hardly any job creation. Anyone who thinks we will recover without intervention isn’t paying attention,” Neil continued.
“Over the next many hours, and days, we will debate legislative proposals that are immensely important to the American people. They are proposals that many of our families and neighbors need to stay afloat in this incredibly challenging time,” he said.
Neil went on to urge his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to rise to the occasion.
“Because the American people are counting on us,” he said.