As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) sits on one of the 12 House panels charged with drafting a much-needed budget reconciliation relief package before expanded unemployment insurance expires for millions on March 14. By the end of last week, nine of the 12 House committees held marathon budget hearings to ensure struggling Americans get the relief they need as quickly as possible.
“The work the Agriculture Committee undertook last week is critical to address widespread food insecurity and protect the essential workers who grow, harvest, and process our food,” said Congresswoman Pingree, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. “Americans have been crying out for more significant aid from their government. By acting swiftly to deliver pandemic relief, the House has made clear that we hear them. From individuals facing eviction to small businesses that are teetering on the brink of permanent closure, this legislation will alleviate the suffering of tens of millions. Congress cannot wait for this crisis to worsen before passing an aid package – that would show a total disregard for the pain our constituents are facing.”
The following House Committees are responsible for drafting the budget reconciliation package:
**House Committees that have completed budget reconciliation hearings
Highlights from the House Agriculture Committee’s Budget Reconciliation Package which Congresswoman Pingree helped to craft:
- Increases Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) benefits by 15% for 3 more months
- Provides up to $3.6 billion for food supply chain resilience, including loans and grants for measures to protect workers
- Delivers inspection overtime fee relief to small meat and poultry processors
- Provides $500 million in grants to rural hospitals and health providers to assist with vaccine distribution and other critical public health needs
- Creates a loan forgiveness program and invests in land acquisition, access to credit, and other supports for Black farmers and other farmers of color to address longstanding inequities in U.S. agriculture
Other highlights in the full Budget Reconciliation Package include:
- Direct stimulus checks. Includes additional direct payments of $1,400 for Americans, raising the total recent relief to $2,000 for many.
- Education funding. Provides $170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions to ensure that students can learn safely.
- Public health infrastructure. Invests $50 billion to improve testing and an additional $20 billion to improve vaccine administration and distribution.
- Support for unemployed Americans. Extends federal unemployment benefits through August, 29 2021, increases the supplemental weekly benefit from $300 to $400, and further subsidizes COBRA benefits.
- State and local aid. Allocates $350 billion to help shore up state, local, and tribal budgets impacted by the pandemic.
- Expanded tax credits. Expands the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers without children, approximately tripling the maximum credit.
- Child care affordability. Expands the Child Tax to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under 6); also expands the Child and Dependent Tax Credit (CDCTC). Provides more than $40 billion in stabilization funds to help providers keep their doors open and support families struggling to afford child care.
- Strengthens the ACA. Increases Affordable Care Act premium tax credits for the next two years, reducing health care premiums for middle class Americans.
- Rental assistance. Provides $25 billion in emergency rental assistance and other supports to keep families from losing their homes during the pandemic.
- Drinking and wastewater assistance. Provides $500 million to help low income and other consumers with payments for wastewater and drinking water expenses.
- Increased broadband access. Includes an additional $7.6 billion to provide support to eligible schools and libraries to provide internet service and hot sports to students and teachers.
- Small business aid. Provides $50 billion in relief for small business, including $25 billion for a new SBA program for restaurants and other food and drinking establishments.
- Support for cultural institutions. Includes $135 million each for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, along with $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, to support heavily impacted organizations.
Over the coming weeks, the House Budget Committee will compile the recommendations from each committee and report a comprehensive bill to the House floor for a vote.