MORGANTOWN – The U.S. House of Representatives passed the budget resolution containing President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 American Rescue Plan on Friday.
The House action followed the Senate’s marathon session to pass the resolution Thursday night and into Friday morning – including two amendments by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and one by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. The Senate passed it 50-50, with Vice President Harris breaking the tie.
Manchin, Capito and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., all issued comments on the action.
The House approved the by a vote of 219-209 with one Democrat joining the Republicans to vote against it.
The Hill explains that the House vote sets up the reconciliation process where the Senate can pass it with a simple majority, bypassing a Republican filibuster. It reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she thinks the House could then pass the final measure within the next two weeks.
The Dominion Post reported Thursday night on the 99-1 passage of Manchin’s first amendment, to target stimulus checks to families who need assistance as opposed to upper-income taxpayers. It doesn’t specify any income caps. It just says any stimulus check legislation should include “provisions to ensure upper-income taxpayers are not eligible.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito co-sponsored that amendment and the second one, which would help protect rural hospitals by strengthening and supporting the Provider Relief Fund. It also passed 99-1.
Manchin said the fund “has been a lifeline during the pandemic for hospitals, nursing homes, health centers and physician practices across the country, especially in rural America.”
Manchin said that last year, 18 rural hospitals closed across America, including three in West Virginia.
The CARES Act, he said, established the Provider Relief Fund and so far, Congress has appropriated $178 billion to it, but only 6% has been directed to rural providers. Manchin’s amendment echoes his Save Our Rural Health Providers Ac and would create a 20% set aside for rural health providers in the Provider Relief Fund.
We’re not asking for a handout,” Manchin said, “we’re just asking for our fair share, and I am pleased my colleagues on both sides of the aisle supported my commonsense amendment.”
Capito was one of 10 GOP senators who brought an alternative COVID relief package to President Biden with an overall lower price tag – $600 billion – and lower caps for individual stimulus checks.
She said after the Senate vote, “Democrats in the Senate chose to use the most partisan method possible to pass a $1.9 trillion budget bill, which included their attempt to provide additional relief for the COVID pandemic. It’s unfortunate because in the past, COVID relief is one of the few places we have been able to build bipartisan consensus and deliver for the American people.”
She continued, “This is just the beginning of the budget process Democrats have chosen to pursue. Fortunately, one amendment I authored and two amendments I co-sponsored were added into in the final bill. … These amendments offer hope that Democrats see there are bipartisan solutions available should they choose to work with us.”
Capito’s amendment upholds the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which, she said, “replaced the illegal Obama-era Waters of the United States rule under the Clean Water Act.”
She said, “The Navigable Waters Protection Rule is clear, commonsense policy that is in effect in 49 states. Unfortunately, President Biden is working quickly to undo this. Replacing this rule with something like the 2015 illegal WOTUS Rule would completely reframe all water policy and devastate farmers, manufacturers, and small business owners across the country — including in West Virginia. We have had enough uncertainty. Let’s not create more.”
The NWPR established a definition that unambiguously identifies four simple categories of jurisdictional waters, provides clear exclusions for many water features — water features that traditionally have not been regulated at the federal level — and defines terms in the regulatory text that have never been defined before, she said, It clearly delineates where federal regulations apply and gives states and local authorities more flexibility to determine how to best manage waters within their borders.
McKinley voted with the other Republicans against the House Democrat resolution but then co-introdcued a separate bill providing for $1,400 stimulus checks.
On the House vote he said, “Despite President Biden’s rhetoric about unity and bipartisanship, it’s clear that Democrats are intent on ramming through their far-left checklist. Instead of building off the bipartisan COVID relief packages passed and signed into law last year, and working across the aisle to provide targeted relief, Democrats have made it their mission to push a $2 trillion wish list with policies unrelated to the pandemic.”
His bill, co-authored by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., is called the Coronavirus Assistance for American Families Act. It would provide a direct payment of $1,400 to adults and an additional $1,400 to any dependents, including the elderly or those with disabilities.
He noted that nearly eight in 10 Americans support issuing $1,400 direct payments, which is also included in Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
“Today’s weak job’s report highlights how American families are struggling and need immediate relief. More than half of households have reported major financial challenges due to the economic and public health crisis,” McKinley said. “By providing a third round of individual relief, millions of American families would receive the help they need. As Congress continues to negotiate additional COVID-19 relief measures, we must prioritize family-focused direct assistance to those who need it most.”
Under the act, a couple filing jointly would receive $2,800; a family of four would receive $5,600. Full payment would go to single filers making $75,000 and joint filers making $150,000; above those levels, the payment decreases by $5 for every $100. This is the same criteria found in the CARES Act.