Chairman Neal Floor Remarks on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
(As prepared for delivery)
M. Speaker, more than a year has passed since the coronavirus was first detected in the United States.
In that time, we have lost over half a million lives to this relentless virus. We are a nation in mourning - for our lost loved ones, neighbors, colleagues.
And as we mourn, much of American life is unrecognizable. Millions have lost their jobs. And even more, their safety and their security.
This is the hard reality in my district and in every single congressional district across the country.
Through all this pain, our care for one another is still recognizable. We have seen this in the countless hours our health heroes have spent caring for the sick. We have seen other essential workers who have kept our grocery aisles stocked and our mail delivered. And we have seen the care of neighbors helping neighbors.
And today, Congress acts in the same spirit of care for our fellow Americans, by delivering on the relief our constituents have been humbly asking for.
This isn’t about the dollars and cents! Lives are a stake! And we can save them by passing this bill. We will get shots into arms faster. We will help families stay housed and put food on the table.
Most importantly, this package will help families avoid impossible choices.
The Ways and Means Committee has put forth an aggressive course of action. Full of proven policies to fight both the public health and economic crises. We are balancing immediate relief and sustained support, to keep Americans afloat and ready to bounce back stronger than ever before.
We are doing this by making good on our promise of $2,000 checks. We will also enhance and expand refundable tax credits for low- and middle-income workers and families.
Combined, these benefits will provide an average income boost of 33 percent for the poorest 20 percent of households. This is absolutely life changing and it will lift millions of children out of poverty. For families, this bill also offers a massive savings in child care expenses, which have been a major barrier to returning to the workforce.
For the millions of jobless Americans, we are ensuring they can afford life’s necessities until the economy rebounds by extending pandemic-related unemployment benefits and increasing the weekly benefit.
Access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage is critical, so we have included provisions to contain costs, particularly for unemployed workers.
We also include help for nursing homes to crush the virus and we shore up multiemployer pension plans that have been further jeopardized by COVID-19.
Delaying isn’t an option. This is our opportunity to take bold action that will keep struggling Americans afloat, and give them the peace of mind that better days are still to come.
For those who ask, "is this too much?", the answer is NO.
Experts agree that doing too little is far riskier than doing too much. We must fight this virus like the grave enemy that it is and give people a fighting chance to make it through this pandemic. And we must give them a chance for opportunity on the other side. That’s what we are doing in this bill.
And with that, I remind my colleagues that this is not the time for partisan rancor or to drag our feet with small piecemeal solutions. We must go big. We must be bold. And we must rise to this challenge because the American people are counting on us.
I urge my colleagues to support the American Rescue Plan and I reserve the balance of my time.