WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Kentucky Representative John Yarmuth, Chair of the House Budget Committee, testified before the House Rules Committee in support of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319). Remarks as prepared are below:
Members of the Committee, the bill before us today has been called one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in modern history. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes lifesaving and life-changing provisions that will serve as a turning point in our nation’s fight against COVID-19 and for a strong, inclusive economic recovery.
The bill we are debating today is largely unchanged from the one I first presented to this committee and was later passed by the House almost two weeks ago. The Senate changes were either peripheral or necessary to comply with Senate rules. Consequently, nearly every component of the House passed American Rescue Plan – ending the pandemic; supporting families, small businesses, and communities through these crises; and helping workers and students safely return to their jobs and to schools – remains in this legislation.
There’s really nothing new to argue or debate here today. Between the budget resolution and the reconciliation bill itself, we have had more than 100 hours of debate in the House of Representatives – spanning Rules Committee hearings, committee markups, and multiple debates on the House floor with another imminent. The Senate debated the resolution for nearly 15 hours and considered more than 800 amendments before taking more than 25 hours to pass the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 last week. And now it’s back to us, where we will debate for a few more hours and vote before sending the bill to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
We have been thorough. We have followed every House rule and proper procedure for a budget reconciliation bill, but we have also acted with the urgency the situation requires. But ultimately, this has been a race against the clock because we know the devastation that is happening in – and to – our communities every day.
The American Rescue Plan is aggressive – no doubt about it. But researchers and health professionals have told us this is what is needed to scale up testing and tracing, to address PPE shortages, and to speed up equitable vaccine distribution so we can end this pandemic once and for all.
Economic experts across the ideological spectrum support the American Rescue Plan. They agree that this targeted, evidence-based plan is needed – both for struggling families and for the American economy – and that the federal government has ample fiscal capacity to provide it. In fact, because of this legislation, economists estimate that we can bring the economy back to near full employment in a little over 12 months instead of three years as currently projected.
But that’s not all. We are providing direct financial relief to more than 80 percent of American families. We are lifting half of America’s children out of poverty. And we are providing the resources schools need to open safely and make up for lost time in the classroom.
The American people get what we are doing. They know all too well the painful challenges facing our nation, and that is why the vast majority of them – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – support the American Rescue Plan.
This is a momentous moment for this Congress, but more importantly for our nation and for American families. The American Rescue Plan will soon be signed into law and help will be on the way.
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