The U.S. House of Representatives voted 220-211 to concur with the Senate changes in the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” as requested by President Joe Biden, sending the measure to his desk for signing.
Unlike the previous spending packages billed as COVID-19 relief, this legislation was drafted, passed and promoted solely by Congressional Democrats. No Republicans voted for this bill in either the House or Senate.
Mississippi Republican Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, along with Republican Congressmen Trent Kelly, Michael Guest, and Steven Palazzo all spoke in opposition to the bill leading up to its passage, saying it was a purely partisan effort.
In a speech on the House floor, Congressman Guest urged his colleagues to vote against the measure. He said that over the last year, Republicans and Democrats have worked together numerous times to pass COVID relief for the American people. Unfortunately, this bill was not that way.
“The legislation is a completely partisan bill that has yet to receive one Republican vote in either the House or the Senate. This spending bill will appropriate nearly $2 trillion at a time we still have $1 trillion in unspent funding from our previous relief bills,” Guest said. “This bill will be passed at a time that our economy is growing, unemployment is dropping (14.7% to 6.2%), and Americans are being vaccinated. Instead of prioritizing public health needs, focusing on reopening the economy and reopening our schools, or even securing our border, we will be voting to add almost $2 trillion to our national debt, with most of the spending going to fulfill campaign promises and fund the agenda of the far-left.”
Guest said that even Democrats admit the spending package is the “most progressive legislation in the last quarter century,” and Congress should instead focus on working together for the good of the American people.
Congressman Palazzo agreed with Guest, calling the legislation “a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
“Let me be clear. I want to make sure Americans have adequate resources to meet their needs and beat the pandemic. Unfortunately, as we near the pandemic’s one-year anniversary, the Democrats and their proposals don’t have the same goals,” Palazzo said. “It is reprehensible that only nine percent of this bill is going to public health while the rest funds pet projects and far-left policies. If a targeted relief bill was put forth, I would gladly support it, but this is nothing more than a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Democrat Congressman Bennie Thompson tweeted his support of the bill. He, along with his fellow caucus members, is necessary for state and local communities as well as individuals.
This rescue package is a need for our communities. It’s time for the government to step up and help the people. #AmericanRescuePlan
— Bennie G. Thompson (@BennieGThompson) March 10, 2021
Republican lawmakers offered amendments throughout the process and all were rejected by Democrats.
Congressman Guest said now was not the time to pass another round of funding given the enormous amount of funds left unspent from previous COVID relief packages.
“There is still $1 trillion in COVID relief funding that has yet to be spent. We need to be good stewards of the American people’s money instead of pushing through legislation that overshoots the gap of what’s needed to respond to the pandemic,” Guest has said.
In a recent Facebook post, the Guest noted that funds were still available from previous actions, including:
- $280 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program,
- $239 billion for public health programs,
- $172 billion for economic injury disaster loans,
- $59 billion for education, and
- $58 billion for state and local aid.
In a release following today’s vote, Congressman Palazzo issued the following reasons why he voted no on this Biden-Pelosi-Schumer spending package:
- Less than nine percent goes to combatting COVID-19 through public health spending
- Includes $500 billion to incentivize continued state and local lockdowns
- Provides bailouts for blue states, even though most states collected about the same amount of revenue during the pandemic, with some collecting more
- Cuts Medicare by $36 billion starting in 2022 and continuing for the next ten years
- Twenty-one percent funds policies that will reduce private-sector employment
- Includes $12 billion for foreign aid
- Includes $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
- Includes $135 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities
- Includes $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services
- With the exception of economic impact payments, almost half of the bill will not be spent until 2022 or later
- Only five percent of $130 billion provided will be spent in 2021 for K-12 schools
- Does not guarantee schools will reopen soon, even though $70 billion has already been provided by the federal government for this purpose
- Only five percent of $5 billion will be spent in 2021 for Emergency Housing Vouchers
- Only 17 percent of the $39 billion for childcare will be spent in 2021
- Only 23 percent of the $50 billion for FEMA will be spent in 2021
- None of the $5 billion for Homeless Assistance will be spent in 2021
- One trillion in already enacted stimulus funding remains unspent
- Rejoins the failed Paris Agreement
- Terminates the Emergency Declaration at the Southern Border and Border Wall
- Enhances Obamacare subsidies that will lead to fewer hours worked
- Establishes a form of universal basic income
- Fails to include Hyde-Amendment protections that prevent taxpayer dollars from funding abortions
- Illegal immigrants qualify for certain elements of the package
President Biden issued the following statement on the passage of the spending bill in the House:
For weeks now, an overwhelming percentage of Americans – Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – have made it clear they support the American Rescue Plan. Today, with final passage in the House of Representatives, their voice has been heard.
Now we move forward with the resources needed to vaccinate the nation. To get $1,400 in direct payments to 85% of American households. To expand coverage and help with lowering health care premiums. To give small businesses what they need to stay open. To expand unemployment insurance, provide food and nutrition assistance. To help keep a roof over people’s heads. To cut child poverty in half.
This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance.
I want to thank all the members who voted for it, especially Speaker Pelosi, the finest and most capable speaker in the history of our nation. Once again, she has led into law an historic piece of legislation that addresses a major crisis and lifts up millions of Americans.
On Friday, I look forward to signing the American Rescue Plan into law at the White House – a people’s law at the people’s house.
What can individuals expect from this bill?
- The bill extends a $300 per week unemployment supplement, and makes millions more eligible for unemployment insurance until September 6th. The plan also makes an individual’s first $10,200 in jobless benefits tax-free.
- Individual checks of $1,400 direct payments will be sent to most Americans and their dependents. The checks phase out at $75,000 in income for individuals and are capped at $80,000. If married and filing jointly, the thresholds are $150,000 and $160,000, respectively.
- The bill expands the child tax credit for one year and will increase it to $3,600 for children under 6 and to $3,000 for kids between 6 and 17.