Twelve House committees have begun consideration of President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan using a procedural process known as reconciliation. Reconciliation allows the legislation to avoid the Senate filibuster, meaning a simple majority vote is needed for Senate passage, but also imposes some limitations on what can be included in the bill.
Though the bill contains a number of provisions of interest to the housing community, a number of questions remain as the relief package is being assembled. For example, Democrats may be forced to remove the proposed increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as it may not be permitted under the arcane rules that govern reconciliation bills. Nonetheless, these House committees plan to move forward even as some components remain unresolved.
After the individual committees consider their portions of the relief package, the House Budget Committee will assemble the individual components into a single bill for consideration by the House. We expect the House to vote on the package later this month, and Senate consideration is expected shortly thereafter. Congressional leadership in the House and Senate hope to pass the bill and send it to President Biden for his signature prior to the March 14 expiration of the expanded unemployment insurance benefits.
NAHB will closely monitor developments as the legislative process moves forward. We have highlighted below some of the major provisions included in the early drafts, but as the legislation comes together in the coming weeks, it is likely some of these elements will change.
- Additional recovery rebates up to $1,400 per taxpayer. Single taxpayers earning up to $75,000 and married couples earning up to $150,000 will be eligible for the full amount. The rebates will be phased out for singles earning more than $100,000 and married couples earning more than $200,000.
- Child Tax Credit expansion. For 2021, the Child Tax Credit will be fully refundable, and the credit will be increased to $3,000 per eligible child, or $3,600 for children under the age of six. In addition, for 2021, 17-year-old children would be eligible. House Democrats also plan to create a mechanism to advance a portion of the credit to eligible taxpayers monthly.
- Paid medical and sick leave credits. Employers offering their employees COVID-related paid medical and sick leave would be eligible for an expanded tax credit through Sept. 30.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit. Eligible employers would be able to claim this credit through the end of 2021.
- Additional aid for small businesses. The legislation provides an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Existing eligibility rules remain in place for small businesses seeking to participate in the PPP, including 501(c)(6) organizations that include state and local home builders associations. The measure also provides an additional $15 billion for the targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance program.
- $25 billion for emergency rental aid. The rental component includes the following:
- $19 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
- Unlike previous funds, there is no specific language mandating a portion of the funds for rental arrears.
- $5 billion for emergency Housing Choice Vouchers.
- $100 million for unassisted households in USDA-subsidized properties.
- $750 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant program and the Indian Community Development Block Grant program.
- $100 million for NeighborWorks housing counseling.
- Extension of unemployment benefits. Federal unemployment benefits would be extended through Aug. 29. This extension also applies to the self-employed and individual contractors. Supplemental weekly benefits for all individuals claiming unemployment would be extended through Aug. 29 and increase from $300 to $400.
- Gradually increases the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The federal minimum wage would increase to $9.50 an hour with the bill's enactment, and increase incrementally each year to $15 an hour by 2025.
- Home owner assistance efforts. The bill includes $10 billion for home owner assistance efforts, including direct relief with mortgage payments, small 1-4 rental unit properties, property tax payments and utility costs.
- Homelessness assistance funding. The legislation provides $5 billion for homelessness assistance funding.