As the 2022 House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference came to a close last week, leaders discussed the passage of the spending bill on Thursday and the one-year anniversary of the American Rescue Plan.
Chairman and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries organized the three-day event this year in Philadelphia at the Independence Seaport Museum and Hilton Hotel along the city’s waterfront. Members of Congress and Senate had just passed the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package in the nick of time for the kickoff of the caucus and to avoid a government shutdown, and President Joe Biden signed it into law soon after.
The spending bill includes $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and a $1.5 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, which is a combination of “non-defense” and “defense” spending. But most notably is the slashed COVID-19 funding from the 2021 version of the bill. About $15.6 billion in COVID-19 funding was removed from the 2022 version that was passed, reported Investopedia.
“I’m very proud that in a very strong bipartisan way, we took action in the House, this week, to lift the purchase of Russian oil and we have the Magnitsky legislation part of that—renewing that law, and then today we go further,” said Pelosi.
There are also provisions in the bill for a laundry list of things such as housing, urban development, military construction, veteran affairs, strengthening the legislative branch, education, environmental protections, homeland security, small businesses, the integrity and safety of elections, rural development, food benefits, job creation, and clean energy.
“Particularly as we came out of the COVID crisis, or we begin to come out of it,” said U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks on the topic of health, creating jobs, and education during the conference. “We’re looking at health equality, especially in my district in Southeast Queens, that is absolutely essential. We’re trying to help hospitals and family healthcare centers that serve people and keep people safe and healthy.”
When asked about the loss of COVID-19 funding, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the conference that what they had in relief was “a good start but not enough” and that there were plans for later legislation to add more.
“I can think of no other time in my life when we have really been faced with real trials. When we look at what’s happening around the world, the war that we all have emotionally attached ourselves to, the challenges that we’ve had coming back from COVID-19 and the future for our children and our grandchildren,” said Majority Whip James E. Clyburn from South Carolina. “These are times that try men’s souls.”
Jeffries and Pelosi were also proud to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the American Rescue Plan.
Jeffries called the bill “a transformative piece” of legislation that saved the economy during the pandemic. He said that it was directly responsible for 7.4 million jobs created during the first 13 months of Biden’s presidency.
“This is something that was—not only helped people survive from COVID-19, something that not only helps them reach their success, it was transformational in how they do so. We want to continue that work in certain aspects of BBB with the Child Tax Credit, universal pre-k, the list goes on, affordable child care,” said Pelosi.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w