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Higgins announces committee approval of COVID-19 relief for working families

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Fri, Feb 12th 2021 11:30 am

Measures passed include $1,400 direct payments, health care affordability, expansion of child tax credits & protections for seniors

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced, during a second full day of hearings on the American Rescue Plan, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee approved several measures providing COVID-19 relief for families.

“Job losses, food insecurity, health concerns and child care needs are among the many challenges American families are facing as a result of the pandemic,” Higgins said. “Each alone can be life-changing and together they can feel insurmountable. This plan recognizes the big challenges facing Americans and delivers big solutions to help people overcome the hardships caused by the pandemic and come out stronger on the other side.”

Several House committees have been tasked with considering and advancing components of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan proposed by President Joe Biden. Below are highlights on the measures approved by the Ways and Means Committee on Thursday:

•Direct Payments:

√ Provides an additional $1,400 stimulus payment for individuals earning up to $75,000, heads of household earning up to $112,500, and joint filers with adjusted gross income up to $150,000.

•Affordable Health Care:

√ Further reduces Affordable Care Act premiums, making sure health care is affordable for Americans during the pandemic.

√ Provides a subsidy for COBRA coverage premiums for eligible individuals, who lost their job during the pandemic, through Sept. 30.

•Assistance for Families:

√ Increases the Child Tax Credit from $2,000/child to $3,000/child ($3,600/child under age 6). This measure will lift 7.1 million people, including over 4 million children out of poverty.

√ Addresses access to affordable child care by expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Under the bill, families earning up to $125,000 are eligible to receive a credit for half of their first $16,000 in child care expenses and those earning up to $400,000 can receive a credit for at least 20% of the first $16,000.

√ Extends the paid family and medical leave credits, previously included in the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act, through September.

•Help for Struggling Workers:

√ Extends the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to childless workers, workers age 19-24 (who are not full-time students) and working seniors. The credit is already available to low-income working families.

•Retiree & Senior Protections:

√ Provides $276 million over a two-year period to address abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly, made worse by the pandemic.

√ Delivers $450 million to help skilled nursing homes struggling with COVID infection and to deploy strike force teams to nursing homes dealing with an outbreak.

√ Implements the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act, stabilizing multiemployer pensions, many of which go to front line workers including retirees who worked in the trucking, food and grocery industries.

Additional measures related to public health, education, small business relief and other urgent needs are also under consideration in other committees. Next week, the Budget Committee, on which Higgins also serves, will meet to compile and advance the bills approved by each of the House committees, moving the package to the House floor for a vote.

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