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House, Senate Committees Continue Work on Economic Recovery Legislation

House

On January 28, the House passed, 244-188, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1).

The bill would provide $819 billion — $6 billion less than was approved by House committees last week — in tax relief and government spending. The House Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means Committees approved their respective portions of similar legislation (H.R. 598) last week (see The Source 1/23/09).

Prior to consideration of the bill, the House Rules Committee drafted an “automatic,” or self-executing rule governing the floor debate of H.R. 1. The rule, among other provisions, struck a provision approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee that would have allowed states to extend eligibility for family planning services to certain low-income individuals under Medicaid. The House approved the rule, 243-185.

Senate Appropriations

On January 27, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved, 21-9, its portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan (S. 1). The $825 billion package also contains a combination of government spending and tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

According to the committee summary, the measure contains:

  • $2.4 billion for “quality of life and family-friendly military construction projects, such as family housing and child care centers.” Of that amount, $353.8 million would be allocated for child development centers and $135 million would be allocated to improve housing conditions;
  • $16.5 billion for additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamps program) benefits;
  • $500 million for the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC);
  • $4.6 billion to “increase investments in early childhood education.” Included in that amount is $2 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant, $2.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start, and $500 million for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Early Childhood Education;
  • $75 million for additional smoking cessation programs;
  • $65 million in state grants to upgrade newborn screening and vital statistics equipment;
  • $400 million for HIV and STD testing programs;
  • $300 million for grants to fight domestic violence;
  • $50 million in state grants to track down cyber predators who target children; and
  • $50 million for competitive grants to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

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

Senate Finance

On January 27, the Senate Finance Committee approved, 14-9, the tax portion of S. 1. According to the committee summary, the measure includes “$342 billion in tax cuts for families and businesses….”

The bill would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by providing an increased credit for families with three or more children and provide additional marriage penalty relief for married couples. The committee estimates that these provisions would cost $4.7 billion over ten years.

The legislation also would increase the eligibility for the refundable child tax credit by reducing the income threshold to $6,000 in 2009 and 2010. Doing so would permit more families to qualify for the credit. Currently, the income threshold is $8,500. The House bill recommends eliminating the income threshold altogether in 2009 and 2010. The committee estimates that the provision would cost $10.5 billion over ten years.

Like the House bill, the Finance Committee proposal includes provisions to extend the Transitional Medical Assistance program (P.L. 109-432) through December 31, 2010, restore federal funding for child support enforcement, and provide additional funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Contingency Fund.

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

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