WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to deliver urgent financial relief to American families struggling with the economic fallout from COVID-19, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) says he is committed to providing an additional direct payment of $1,400 per person and expanding tax credits targeted to assist working-class families.  Senator Reed says the new stimulus payments, along with enhanced unemployment insurance, targeted tax incentives, and a renewed focus on boosting vaccinations are essential to help families and communities overcome the COVID-19 crisis and avoid deeper, prolonged financial hardship.

“As more Americans have fallen into financial distress during this pandemic, this targeted assistance will provide a much needed boost to families, businesses, and communities who are hurting and could use a lift.  I’m fighting for this extra $1,400 top-off because it offers a real lifeline to many Rhode Islanders who have lost their jobs or seen incomes shrink significantly during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Reed, who noted that during the Trump Administration, the U.S. experienced the biggest jump in poverty in six decades.  “This is far from a done deal and major hurdles remain, but I believe this funding is absolutely critical for Rhode Island.  So I will continue working hard to see it through and get these checks and other assistance out to people in need.”

Revised U.S. Department of Labor statistics show the U.S, economy lost 227,000 jobs in December.  And the Century Foundation estimated that if Congress does not act quickly, 11.4 million workers will lose unemployment benefits between March 14 and April 11.

“This recovery package is urgently needed.  Even as millions of people lost their jobs and saw their unemployment expire, the Trump Administration let the economy fester while Donald Trump spent more time trying to overturn the election instead of helping the economy overcome the negative impacts of COVID-19.  We’ve got to act wisely now to prevent a deeper and longer recession from taking hold,” said Reed.

Congress is currently working through a process known as “budget reconciliation,” which prevents a filibuster of fiscal legislation that meets very stringent technical criteria.  Under the reconciliation process, committees of jurisdiction in both the House and Senate are tasked with formally approving the details of the legislation, which are packaged in a single bill that must then be passed by each chamber.

The House moves first and the Ways and Means Committee, led by Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), the Education and Labor Committee, led by Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), and other committees of jurisdiction have begun advancing portions of the legislation.

Reed, who is a senior member of both the Senate’s Appropriations Committee and the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, has been hard at work on key aspects of the coronavirus relief legislation for months.  Reed has been involved with talks on a variety of key aspects of the bill.  In addition to seeking to deliver another $1,400 in COVID-19 relief to Rhode Islanders, Senator Reed is working to support other key economic stimulus provision in the COVID-19 rescue package, including:

  • Extending temporary federal unemployment insurance for jobseekers through August 29, 2021 and increasing the federal supplemental weekly benefit from $300 to at least $400 per week.
  • Expanding and enhancing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers without children by nearly tripling the maximum credit and extending eligibility.
  • Boosting the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under 6), and making it fully refundable and immediately available.
  • Reducing health care premiums for low- and middle-income families by increasing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) premium tax credits for 2021 and 2022 and subsidizing COBRA coverage through the end of the fiscal year and ensuring unemployed Americans in need can access affordable health coverage.

Senator Reed noted that the budget reconciliation process takes up a significant amount of floor time and expects that the full U.S. House of Representatives may vote on the full bill by the end of the month.  The Senate will assemble and vote on its own, similar version of the bill, with critical rulings by parliamentary officials about what may or may not be included subject to budget points of order.  The two chambers must then reconcile any differences in the two separate bills and agree on and pass a final piece of legislation before it can be sent to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Senator Reed estimates that process could take until mid-March, but he said it is important for Democrats and President Biden to deliver the change and economic relief the American people overwhelmingly voted for.

“I won’t make any predictions about the ultimate language of the final bill or when it will pass.  But I will do everything in my power to direct as much relief as possible to Rhode Islanders in need.  And I will make one general prediction: When this relief goes out to the American people, it will do tremendous good in red states and blue states alike and offer a much needed lift to the American people, Main Street businesses, and our economy,” concluded Reed.