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The House Ways and Means Committee on February 10 and 11 advanced legislation to implement budget reconciliation instructions regarding COVID-19 relief. The budget resolution passed by Congress last week included reconciliation instructions for 12 House committees to draft legislation to implement President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan. The Ways and Means legislation, which is estimated by the Joint Committee on Taxation staff (JCT) to increase the deficit by $593 billion over 10 years (the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not yet released its estimate), will be combined with legislation from the other House committees into a single budget reconciliation bill that will be considered by the House.

The action by the Ways and Means Committee is a significant step in advancing COVID-19 relief under the reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority vote for passage. President Biden has proposed a two-part COVID and economic recovery package consisting of the $1.9 trillion emergency COVID relief package (the American Rescue Plan) plus an economic recovery plan (the Build Back Better Recovery Plan) that he is expected to outline this month. Congress later this year could use another budget reconciliation bill to act on the second part of President Biden’s package.