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February 11, 2021

Ways & Means wraps first day of COVID Bill markup

The House Ways & Means Committee February 10 wrapped up the first day of consideration of provisions under its jurisdiction that comprise about half of President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, which is moving under the budget reconciliation process that could see its enactment within the next month or so with solely Democratic support. The Committee has cleared five subtitles but has not reached the point of consideration of the tax subtitle to the package. The Committee resumes consideration at 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 11, and Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) said he expects the work to be completed tomorrow without having to reconvene on Friday. Other committees are marking up additional elements of the package this week.

In an opening statement, Chairman Neal addressed the process, saying, confronted by "sobering realities, we have been left no choice but to move forward with the budget reconciliation process to move relief legislation through the process and quickly can get relief to the American people. So long as lives and livelihoods are at stake, we are called to action." Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) said in his opening statement, "This nearly $2 trillion 'stimulus' package is neither targeted nor a stimulus … let's find common ground on crushing the virus and rebuilding this economy." Committee Republicans wrote to the Biden Administration yesterday, asking for an estimate of how many jobs will be created through the proposed $1.9 trillion COVID package.

The Committee adopted 24-18 the substitute amendments for sections on UI benefits, home-visiting programs, and childcare. Adopted 22-18 was the substitute amendment for the section on Emergency Assistance for Children & Families. The elder justice subtitle substitute amendment was adopted 23-18.

The Committee defeated Republican amendments along party lines, including those to:

  • strike and replace the $400/weekly UI supplement with an amount equal to 50% of a claimants' weekly benefit amount as determined by the state (Brady), 18-24;
  • allow states to pay a lower weekly supplement amount than $400 and use remaining dollars for return-to-work bonuses or re-employment services for unemployed workers (A. Smith), 17-24;
  • incorporate a benefit phaseout period and application deadline to avoid an unemployment benefits cliff (Hern), 18-24.
  • require identity and prior wage verification for UI (Nunes), 18-24;
  • require new TANF funds to be based on number of children living in poverty in each state, rather than the current formula (Miller), 17-24;
  • require improved work development support under TANF (LaHood), 18-24;
  • require state recipients of coronavirus relief fund money to send a portion down to smaller municipal governments (Brady), motion to table upheld along party lines;
  • require states to have plans for reopening schools (Walorski), 18-23;
  • require states to provide plans to make supplemental childcare money available to providers (Reed), 18-23;
  • dedicate HHS provider relief funds for testing seniors and those in other underserved communities, and more funds for substance abuse and mental health (Ferguson), motion to table upheld along party lines; and
  • address elder care liability (Wenstrup), 18-23.

Withdrawn were amendments to:

  • hold harmless victims of fraudulently claimed UI benefits (Wenstrup), over germaneness concerns; and
  • increase to 100% the amount of unemployment reimbursement for non-profit organizations (Smucker).


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
   • Any member of the group, at (202) 293-7474.