House Democrats are quickly advancing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal through committees to create a final bill that may face delays in the Senate, but is expected to give President Biden his first major legislative accomplishment by March. (BGov, Feb. 18)
- The Real Estate Roundtable has consistently urged Washington policymakers to take aggressive actions to combat the pandemic and its economic repercussions. (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 12)
- Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) last week said she expects the House will approve a bill “by the end of February so we can send it to the president’s desk before unemployment benefits expire” on March 14. (CNBC, Feb. 11)
- The House legislation is being considered under a budget reconciliation process that allows passage in the Senate with only a simple majority – yet certain measures such as a minimum wage increase face opposition from Democratic Senators that could pose delays in the 50-50 upper chamber. (The Hill, Feb. 17)
- House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) told his Democratic colleagues in a Feb 16 letter that “Members should be aware that the House may need to remain in session through the weekend next week to complete consideration.”
- Anticipating potential changes to the House bill from the Senate, Hoyer added, “During the week of March 8, the House will continue in legislative session. We will be ready to take further action on the American Rescue Plan in the event the Senate amends it and sends it back to us.” (Rep. Hoyer’s Feb. 16 Dear Colleague letter)
- The Democratic House bill include $25 billion in assistance to renters and their landlords, as well as $10 billion for assistance to homeowners. It would also provide $350 billion for state and local governments, territories and tribal governments to respond to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. (“Where things stand on the COVID-19 relief measure,” The Hill, Feb. 17)
- The two chambers must reconcile differences before a final bill is sent to Biden’s desk. Comparisons of the Democratic and Republican proposals are available from CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.
Foreclosure Moratorium Extended
- President Biden on Feb. 16 further extended a ban on home foreclosures for Americans with federally backed mortgages through June 30, as well as a residential mortgage payment forbearance program that allows people to pause or reduce payments. On his first day as president, Biden issued an executive order extending eviction protections for the country's 44 million rental households until March 31. (USA Today, Feb. 16 and Forbes, Feb. 3 )
- According to a White House Fact Sheet, the extension benefits 2.7 million homeowners currently in COVID forbearance and extends the availability of forbearance options for nearly 11 million government-backed mortgages nationwide.
The White House statement on the extensions also referred to the pandemic relief package under consideration in Congress. “To bolster these efforts, it is critical that Congress pass the American Rescue Plan to deliver more aid to struggling homeowners. The rescue plan creates a Homeowners Assistance Fund which will provide states with $10 billion to help struggling homeowners catch up on their mortgage payments and utility costs,” according to the Feb. 16 statement.
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