House Budget Committee Begins Work on COVID Relief Bill

The Budget Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to begin work this week on assembling the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package following the submissions from nine House committees. The committees submitted their legislative proposals in accordance with the budget reconciliation instructions contained in the budget resolution passed by the House and Senate. The budget reconciliation process allows the legislation to bypass the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster hurdle normally applicable to legislation, enabling the bill to pass with a simple majority vote.  

With the Senate equally divided between Republicans and Democrats (including independents voting with Democrats), Vice President Kamala Harris would break a tie in the Senate to give President Joe Biden the majority he needs to pass the COVID relief measure, known as the American Rescue Plan. Some measures expected to be included in the House plan, such as an increase in the minimum wage, are not supported by all Senate Democrats and may need to be removed for the bill to advance. In addition, the Senate parliamentarian is expected to rule on whether other aspects of the bill comply with the procedural requirements of the budget reconciliation process.

The original timing for completion of the bill has been delayed because of the anticipated differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation, which will necessitate negotiations to reconcile any differences. Passage of the bill is now expected by mid-March.