WASHINGTON – Despite calls by the Biden administration for bipartisan action to fight coronavirus, lawmakers remain deeply divided over the size of the stimulus funds for mortgage borrowers, renters and small businesses.
At the center of the party political disagreement is whether or not to stop funding programs like the state's Small Business Credit Initiative and the Homeowner Assistance Fund when the public health emergency is declared over Mitigate the ongoing economic impact.
"The fact is, the economic crisis will last for many, many months, perhaps after the health crisis is over," said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., On Wednesday at a markup by the House Financial Services Committee on the EU-endorsed stimulus plan $ 1.9 trillion White House.
Several Republicans on the panel questioned whether pre-pandemic funding is allowed for programs and suggested changes to set a deadline for certain funds, warning that Democrats should not use the crisis to kickstart government programs. However, all of their amendments were rejected.
"The bottom line is that we need to provide temporary, targeted, and COVID-related assistance to the people who need it most," McHenry said. “Despite what my colleagues say, it is possible to do too much. In fact, there is a bipartisan agreement that this additional $ 1.9 trillion package could overheat the economy. "
"Millions of individuals and families are on the verge of eviction or foreclosure as rents back or mortgage payments pile up through no fault of their own," said Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
The debate showed that House Democrats are on track to pass the laws with little to no GOP support. (Despite a Senate vote, Congress still needs to respond to the stimulus plan so lawmakers can push the bailout package through the budget vote process.)
The stimulus bill would provide around $ 25 billion in emergency rental assistance, $ 5 billion in assistance to the homeless, $ 10 billion in homeowners' difficulty paying mortgages, and $ 10 billion to provide support to small businesses, including minority-owned businesses.
The $ 10 billion mortgage assistance would bring relief to states and local tribes in the form of direct assistance with mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, and other housing costs.
Democrats on the committee called for a comprehensive approach to ensure Congress supports the economic aftermath of the pandemic.
"Millions of individuals and families are on the verge of eviction or foreclosure as rents back or mortgage payments pile up through no fault of their own," said Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif. “Across the country, people are struggling to make ends meet and hunger is growing. Color communities remain hardest hit. "
However, Republicans on the committee warned that legislation would approve the use of funds long after the pandemic ended.
"If we are to provide emergency relief, it should be through the national pandemic emergency, not by 2025 and 2030," said Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo.
Another sticking point is whether Congress should allocate funding for programs set up outside of the pandemic. The Democratic proposal re-authorizes an Obama-era program to help states assist small businesses known as the State Small Business Credit Initiative.
"This would codify numerous partisan priorities, including double rent support to channel money for non-COVID causes, and restart the ineffective state-owned Small Business Credit Initiative of the Obama-era," McHenry said.
But Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, touted the program as a way to use government funds to fuel small business growth.
"This would help our small businesses, it would help us make money," said Green. “We can have $ 1 billion and it's going to be $ 10 billion. In fact, during the 2008 downturn, we put $ 1.5 billion and $ 15 billion into this program. "
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., Attempted to change the re-authorization of the state's Small Business Credit Initiative, with all funds being used within six months of the end of the national health emergency. However, the amendment was rejected by the Democrats.
"The SSBCI provision of the bill is clearly written in order to continue to give money to states in the future without directly benefiting workers and job creation," said Leutkemeyer. "This program is touted to help small businesses cope with the pandemic, but does not require all of the funding for five years and allows states to stay on that funding for up to ten years," said Lütkemeyer.