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Chairman Yarmuth Floor Remarks on the 2021 Budget Resolution

Feb 3, 2021

Washington, D.C.— Today, Kentucky Representative John Yarmuth, Chair of the House Budget Committee, delivered remarks on the House Floor on the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2021. The 2021 budget resolution will provide an alternative path for President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, giving Congress the option of using a reconciliation measure to provide critical COVID relief to the American people and addressing the twin health and economic crises facing the United States. Remarks as prepared are below:

Mr. Speaker, it’s been roughly one year since the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in the United States. Since then, more than 26 million Americans have been infected and more than 440,000 have lost their lives. Millions of Americans remain out of work as families are pushed to the brink of devastation. Our economy faces lows unseen since the Great Depression. Food insecurity is climbing. Widespread school closures threaten to derail our children’s education.  And our most vulnerable communities are being forced to bear the brunt of these twin crises as underlying health and economic inequities grow worse.

Congress has previously come together to pass relief packages, but COVID is getting worse not better.  Our recovery is painful and the most unequal on record. We are still deep in the trenches. We have to do more. A lot more.

As Chairman of the Budget Committee, I promised that we would do everything our committee could to support our recovery. Which is why I introduced the 2021 budget resolution being considered today. This budget resolution was designed solely for one task: providing Congress with the option of using reconciliation to implement the American Rescue Plan and deliver the critical relief we need.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan lays out an aggressive legislative package to change the direction of these crises, including: a national vaccine program; testing and tracing, paid sick leave to stop the spread, an extension of lifeline unemployment benefits that are set to expire in March; direct financial support for families; and support so schools can operate safely.

Our country desperately needs this relief. And economists across the ideological spectrum agree. Past crises have made it clear that doing too little will cost us far more. Weak support will lead to a weak, prolonged, and K-shaped recovery, posing more severe risks to our economic and budget outlooks than any deficits we might incur. Without the American Rescue Plan, CBO estimates it will take at least three years before employment returns to pre-pandemic levels. But with this vital support, economists estimate that we can bring the economy back to near full employment in a little over 12 months.

We have the plan and the ability to do this. And, thankfully, we can also afford to do it. Interest rates and inflation are at historic lows – lower today than even before the pandemic – and the return on smart investments in the economy have never been higher.  Economists of all stripes are telling us, begging us, to use the fiscal space we have. They are warning that if we don’t go big, we will be responsible for a long, painful, and unequal recovery. One that will cost more lives and more jobs, that will cause more businesses to close, and result in more damage to our nation’s economy both in the short- and long-term.

The resolution’s budget reconciliation framework sets a budgetary target of up to $1.9 trillion – the estimated cost of the American Rescue Plan – allocated across the 12 House committees that have jurisdiction over some portion of the plan. The resolution instructs these committees to report legislation consistent with these budgetary targets to the Budget Committee by February 16. The Budget Committee will then combine the legislation and prepare it for floor consideration.

There will be plenty of opportunities for my colleagues across the aisle to engage in this process and offer amendments. But we cannot afford to slow down our response to these urgent crises while Republicans decide if they want to help or not.

The American Rescue Plan can be the difference between getting a vaccine or a virus, advancing to the next grade or falling behind, keeping the doors open or shutting down business for good. 

The choice is clear. I look forward to passing this resolution and ensuring Congress delivers the American Rescue Plan to the American people.
 

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