Chairman Yarmuth’s Floor Remarks in Support of H.R. 1868
Mr. Speaker, because of the American Rescue Plan,relief checks are already being deposited in Americans’ bank accounts, furloughs have already ended for tens of thousands workers, and we’ve averted the unemployment cliff, but we have a loose end to tie up before our work is finished and that is the bill before us.
Enacting COVID relief through budget reconciliation was always ‘Plan B.’ But the American people could not afford any more delays, and Congress needed a path forward for the American Rescue Plan and the transformative support it provides. Because PAYGO requirements cannot be changed in reconciliation bills, we knew from the outset that this additional legislative fix was needed to avert painful and indiscriminate cuts to Medicare, farm supports, and other programs.
The language of HR 1868 should look familiar. Over the past year, Congress has enacted multiple COVID relief packages to address the crises facing the American people and our economy. Each time, we excluded these bills from Statutory PAYGO calculations because of the dire impact sequestration would have on our nation’s seniors, students, farmers, and others.
Today’s bill will ensure the American Rescue Plan is treated the same as these previous relief measures AND is treated the same as the last reconciliation bill passed by Congress.
That was in 2017 when Republicans used reconciliation to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Following the bill’s passage without Democratic support in either the House or Senate, Republicans proposed this same legislative fix – albeit buried in a problematic continuing resolution. Enough House and Senate Democrats joined Republicans to prevent harmful across-the-board cuts to critical programs even though we opposed the short-term C.R. and the massive tax giveaways to the wealthy.
This time the situation is flipped, but the same none the less. House Republicans opposed the American Rescue Plan. I don’t understand their position. The bill is supported by more than 70 percent of Americans and will directly benefit far more, but that’s the choice they made. Either way, a Statutory PAYGO legislative fix is now needed, and historically, has been enacted with little dispute.
Even in the wake of contentious legislation, Congress has come together to prevent sequestration and protect Medicare, farm supports, social services, resources for students and individuals with disabilities, and other programs Americans rely on. This time should be no different.