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House Committees Act on Economic Stimulus Package

This week, the House Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means Committees approved their respective portions of the Economic Recovery Package (H.R. 598). The $825 billion package contains tax, health care, reproductive health, food assistance, and education provisions affecting women and their families.

Appropriations

On January 21, the House Appropriations Committee approved, 35-22, its portion of H.R. 598. According to the committee summary, the measure contains:

  • $360 million for new child development centers at Department of Defense facilities;
  • $2 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant;
  • $1.5 billion for Community Health Centers. This amount includes $500 million to “increase the number of uninsured Americans who receive quality health care”;
  • $1 billion for child support enforcement;
  • $2.1 billion for Head Start;
  • $600 million for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Infants and Families;
  • $66 million for education of homeless children and youth;
  • $20 billion to provide food assistance to “modest-income” families and to lift restrictions on the amount of time individuals can receive food stamps;
  • $100 million to help states improve management of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; and
  • $2.5 billion for block grants to help states manage the increase in families needing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

The bill also would provide $3 billion to establish a “prevention and wellness fund,” of which $2.4 billion would be transferred to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. Of that amount, $545 million would be allocated for chronic disease and health promotion programs, while $335 million would be allocated for HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and tuberculosis prevention programs.

The legislation would allow states to cover under their Medicaid programs individuals who are unemployed and uninsured (those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits), individuals receiving food stamps and are not eligible for Medicaid, and individuals in families with gross incomes less than 200 percent of the poverty level ($44,100 for a family of four).

For a full summary of the Appropriations Committee provisions, click here.

Energy and Commerce

On January 22, the House Energy and Commerce passed its portion of H.R. 598. The measure contains several titles addressing Medicaid, broadband access, and insurance assistance for the unemployed, which the committee passed separately before it rolled them into placeholder legislation, H.R. 629. The committee approved the Medicaid title, 32-11, and the insurance assistance title, 32-12; it approved the overall legislation by voice vote.

During consideration of the bill, the committee rejected:

  • an amendment by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) to require parental notification for any minor who received contraceptive services under Medicaid, 14-29; and
  • an amendment by Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) to keep in place the five-year waiting period for legal immigrants and new citizens to receive services under the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP), 12-31.

According to the committee summary, H.R. 629 would allow states to extend eligibility for Medicaid family planning services to certain low-income individuals. The bill would permit states to make eligibility decisions for family planning services based on the income of the applicant, rather than family income.

The measure also would extend until December 31, 2010, the Transitional Medical Assistance program (P.L. 109-432), which provides one year of Medicaid coverage for individuals who leave welfare to go to work. The current authorization (P.L. 110-275) expires on June 30, 2009.

For a full summary of the Energy and Commerce Committee provisions, click here.

Ways and Means

On January 22, the House Ways and Means Committee approved, 24-13, the tax portion of the Economic Recovery Package. The committee summary indicates that the bill would “provide approximately $275 billion in tax relief for individuals, businesses, and state and local governments.”

The measure would temporarily increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for working families with three or more children to 45 percent of the family’s first $12,570 of earned income (currently, the credit is equal to 40 percent of the family’s first $12,570 of earned income) and would increase the “phase-out range” for all married couples, regardless of the number of children, by $1,880.

The bill also would increase the eligibility for the refundable child tax credit in 2009 and 2010. Currently, the credit is refundable up to 15 percent of the taxpayer’s earned income over $8,500. Eliminating the floor, as is proposed in H.R. 598, would expand the number of families eligible to receive the credit.

The bill would provide additional TANF contingency funds to serve needy families and would restore federal funding for child support enforcement for two years.

For full summaries of the Ways and Means Committee provisions, click here.

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