The House Budget Committee voted 19-16 on Feb. 22 to advance the American Rescue Act of 2021, a budget reconciliation package, to the House floor. Currently, the package contains $1.9 trillion in federal spending to respond to COVID-19 and provide economic stimulus, though the total size may change to meet procedural requirements. Previously, portions of the package passed several House committees, each of which was tasked with authoring legislative text within their committee jurisdiction as required by S. Con. Res. 5 [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 12].
During the markup, a manager’s amendment was adopted to make technical fixes and other changes to the package. The amendment included $600 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of the $750 million provided to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in the reconciliation instructions. The funds, available through Sept. 30, 2022, would be available to mitigate COVID-19 impacts to NSF researchers, including to fund or extend new or existing grants, cooperative agreements, and scholarships.
The manager’s amendment also extended a provision that allows states to extend Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage for postpartum women for up to 12 months from five years to seven years. Additionally, it includes a technical fix to instruct the Health and Human Services Secretary to increase the federal cap on Medicaid disproportionate share hospital state allotments to reflect the increase to the federal Medicaid matching rate in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127) [see Washington Highlights, March 20, 2020].
It is anticipated that the House will vote on the reconciliation package on Feb. 26, but as of this writing, the vote has not occurred. If the House advances the measure, it will move to the Senate for consideration.