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As House Ways & Means Committee begins hearings on COVID relief, Higgins provides details on package before Congress

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Wed, Feb 10th 2021 10:30 am

Markup starts Wednesday

The House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, on which Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) serves, will begin the process of considering measures included in the next COVID-19 disaster relief package.

Higgins said, “Americans are eager to return to the life we knew pre-pandemic. While many things may never be the same, quick action on this package can help protect people from the disease and uplift struggling families, businesses and communities.”

Components of the legislation will be considered by various committees, with the Ways and Means Committee responsible for approximately half of the $1.9 trillion package.

Key measures falling under the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee include:

√ Direct Payments: $1,400 in direct relief to Americans

√ Unemployment: Increasing weekly benefit to $400 and extending benefits through Aug. 29

√ Assistance for Families: Increasing the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 (for children under age 6) and $3,000 (ages 6-17); expanding eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit; and allowing families to claim up to 50% of child care expenses under the Child & Dependent Tax Credit

√ Access to Health Care: Making COBRA more affordable for those who lost employer health insurance; and reducing Affordable Care Act premiums for struggling families

√ Protecting Seniors: Increasing services to protect seniors from scams and abuse prevalent during the pandemic; engaging “strike teams” to help nursing homes dealing with outbreaks

√ Retirement Security: Stabilizing multiemployer pension plans at risk of becoming insolvent. These plans commonly cover frontline workers such as those working in the trucking, food processing and grocery industries.

On Feb. 3, the House of Representatives approved a 2021 budget resolution, setting up a path for approval of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The House Budget Committee, on which Higgins also serves, assigned 12 committees sections of the legislation to allow for quick action on the package. House leadership is aiming for final approval of the package to take place in two weeks.

The Ways and Means Committee hearings will start at 10 a.m. Feb. 10-12. A live stream of the hearing is available at: https://waysandmeans.house.gov/legislation/markups/markup-covid-19-relief-measures.

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