Pallone on Committee Passage of COVID-19 Relief Legislation
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) issued the following statement today after the Committee passed COVID-19 relief budget reconciliation legislation:
“I’m pleased the Energy and Commerce Committee passed bold legislation today that combats the COVID-19 pandemic, provides relief to struggling families, and helps rebuild our economy.
“The Committee’s legislation funds and supports the Biden Administration’s ongoing work to aggressively ramp up the distribution and administration of lifesaving vaccines. It also invests in the development and implementation of a national testing strategy that will include rapid tests, community-based testing sites, and expanded lab capacity. Taken together, vaccines and testing are key to reducing the spread of COVID-19, getting our kids back to school, revitalizing our economy, and safely returning to normal patterns of life.
“The Committee also passed provisions to expand access to mental health care and substance use disorder treatment, extend health coverage through the Medicaid program, address health care disparities, and invest in Community Health Centers and health services on tribal lands.
“The legislative package includes critical assistance to help struggling families with their energy and water utility bills, which is so critical right now since we are all spending so much more time at home. We also expand internet connectivity to help bridge the digital divide for students and teachers who do not have access to the internet at home.
“Our nation is facing unprecedented challenges and the American people are hurting. I’m proud of the decisive action the Energy and Commerce Committee took this week to support the American people and to provide the tools and resources required to eventually bring an end to the pandemic.”
Over the last two days, the Committee advanced four legislative proposals that, among other things, provide:
- $14 billion for vaccines;
- $46 billion for testing, contact tracing, and mitigation;
- $7.6 billion to hire 100,000 full time public health workers to support COVID-19 response;
- $25 billion to address health disparities and protect vulnerable populations;
- $4 billion for behavioral and mental health services;
- $5 billion to help struggling families pay their energy and water bills; and
- $7.6 billion to expand internet connectivity for students and teachers without internet access.