After the $1.9 trillion Build Back Better Act stalled in the Senate this week, The Washington Post is now reporting lawmakers are concerned the funds from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan being able to carry American through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m concerned that you’re going to have many, many vulnerable Americans, Americans with young children for example, falling between the cracks,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told the Times. “January looks like a tough month with respect to omicron.”
“We’ve seen this show. How many times do we have to go through this?”
The White House did come out this week to suggest there are existing programs in the American Rescue Plan with funds to help the country deal with anticipated difficulty from the omicron variant.
“We feel people should be reassured by how strong the job market and the economy [are] now, and the fact there are still resources in the American Rescue Plan that can help deal with lingering challenges or the inevitable bumps in the road on economic recovery and COVID recovery,” President Joe Biden’s economic adviser Gene Sperling told the Times.
“As always, we’ll follow closely whether future developments would require some targeted resources.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Congress has passed almost $6 trillion for economic relief and stimulus for COVID-19.
Some pieces of the funding have run out, particularly those for keeping businesses like restaurants and entertainment venues open.
Also, a student loan pause is expiring, and last payments of the temporary child tax credits might have gone out Dec. 15.
Efforts to keep those benefits flowing, like the expanded federal unemployment bonus, have stalled in Congress along with the Build Back Better Act.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s Marc Goldwein told the Times his estimates are that $4.9 trillion of $5.7 trillion of pandemic stimulus has “already has been spent.”
“All the more reason we’re still 100% committed and 100% focused on passing” Build Back Batter, Sperling told the Times.