The “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,” the COVID relief and stimulus package that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), shepherded through the House, includes an unscrupulous provision that allows federal employees to collect up to $21,000 to stay home if schools aren’t open to take their children.
The provision also covers part-time and “seasonal” employees whose compensation would be calculated to “equivalent hours established by their agency.”
The details of the “Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund,” are found starting on page 305 of the COVID relief package currently making its way through the US Senate.
The legislation authorizes a $570 million fund “available through September 30” so federal employees can execute paid leave if they have to care “for others due to COVID.”
Those eligible include federal employees with children who do not have in-person school. Also eligible to draw from the taxpayer funded endowment are those who are “unable to work” because they are caring for any immediate relative or dependent adversely affected by COVID.
The applicable passage in the bill reads: “[I]f the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, if the school of such son or daughter requires or makes optional a virtual learning instruction model or requires or makes optional a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning instruction models, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to Covid-19 precautions…”
In its current form, the bill would allow full-time federal employees to take up to 600 hours in paid leave until September 30, 2021, and up to $35 an hour and $1,400 a week. Totaled for a 40-hour work week employee, the paid time off comes to 15 weeks.
Part-time and “seasonal” employees are eligible at the equivalent hours as established and calculated by their agency. Currently, outside of the legislation’s provision, federal employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
President Biden and the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, the second largest rescue package in U.S. history, expands the social safety net in the U.S. at an unprecedented level.
To start, the bill includes the largest direct stimulus payments ever provided in legislation at $1,400 per adult who filed tax returns with a Social Security number. The amount of the rebate begins to phase out for individuals earning $80,000 per year and above.
The bill also expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to the largest amount on record. According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the stimulus bill increases the Child Tax Credit amount to $3,000 per child and $3,600 for children under age six. Taxpayers will have the option to receive the credit in advance through monthly payments. The bill increases the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit in 2021 from $543 to $1,502.
The bill continues the temporary weekly federal unemployment payments provided during the pandemic. The weekly federal benefit of $300 will be paid on top of state jobless benefits. Recipients will be able to receive a tax waiver on $10,200 of unemployment payments.
The legislation also includes an $86 billion bailout for union-managed multi-employer pension plans and single employer pension plans.
“WORKERS’ PENSIONS SAVED,” Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown tweeted on Monday. “After years of advocacy by workers and retirees, the Senate finally passed a version of my Butch Lewis Act in the American Rescue Plan. Workers who spent their careers paying into their pensions will be able to retire with the dignity they earned.”
The bill extends the employee retention credit through the end of this year. It also continues providing payroll tax credits for paid sick leave as well as paid family and medical leave through September 30.
Democrats used budget reconciliation to move the bill forward, meaning it only needed 51 votes in the Senate to pass. There are 50 Democratic senators plus Vice President Kamala Harris. Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, ultimately missed the vote, so it passed 50-49. The Democratic-led House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the stimulus bill.
The combined $6 trillion price tag on the COVID-19 stimulus packages OK’d by Congress, including Wednesday’s $1.9 trillion Biden bill, will cost taxpayers the equivalent of $17,000 each, or $69,000 per family, according to a new analysis.
What’s more, the new package set for House approval on Wednesday sets aside billions of dollars for non-COVID-19 relief and adds to the nearly $1 trillion in unspent money approved in earlier coronavirus bills.
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, in urging the defeat of the so-called “Christmas tree” package, said on the House floor: “This is the reality of the bill before us today: It showers money on special interests but spends less than 9% on actually defeating the virus. But it gives San Francisco $600 million, essentially wiping out 92% of their budget deficit.”
READ full prepared remarks –https://t.co/kEInhtTc78
— House Budget GOP (@housebudgetGOP) March 9, 2021
Critics have also hit the legislation because much of it won’t be spent this year.
The minority staff of the House Budget Committee and Rep. Jason Smith provided Secrets with the highlights of the Senate-passed version spending in the bill unrelated to coronavirus relief, posted below.
Smith, the top Republican on the budget committee, told NPR today, “If this bill was about direct payments to people and putting shots in the arms and vaccines, you would have strong bipartisan support across this Congress and across this country, but less than 9% of the entire spending in this bill actually goes to crushing the virus and helping distribute vaccines and putting shots in arms.”
- Less than 9% goes to combating COVID-19.
- Twenty-seven percent (or more than $500 billion) goes to state and local governments.
- Twenty-one percent (or approximately $400 billion) goes to policies that reduce private-sector employment.
- $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts.
- $135 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
- $12 billion for foreign aid.
What is spent in this year of the $1.9 trillion?
- Five percent ($6 billion) of the $130 billion set aside for K-12 schools.
- Five percent ($250 million) of the $5 billion for Emergency Housing Vouchers.
- Seventeen percent ($7 billion) of the $39 billion for child care.
- Twenty-three percent ($11 billion) of the $50 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
- None of the $5 billion for homeless assistance.