Welch Committees Pass Key Vermont Priorities in COVID Relief Bill
WASHINGTON – Rep. Welch’s legislative committees, House Energy and Commerce and Oversight and Reform, marked up and passed on Friday core components of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package championed by the Biden administration. The bold relief bill, the “American Rescue Plan,” included key Vermont legislative priorities that Rep. Welch successfully fought for that will deliver immediate financial relief to families and state and local governments, increase our vaccination and testing capacity, and provide critical broadband funding to close the digital divide in rural America.
“Committee markups are where broad policy goals are translated into specific legislation,” said Welch. “In my committees, we worked to make President Biden’s bold plan tangible and focused to help Vermonters and all Americans get through this unprecedented pandemic. I am pleased that we produced legislation that will help Vermonters contain and crush this terrible virus, by including robust state and local funding, billions of dollars for vaccine production, distribution and COVID testing, and help for the most vulnerable among us to make it through the winter. I will continue to work with my colleagues to get this bill across the finish line and signed into law in the coming weeks."
Important priorities in the committee markups include:
- State and Local Coronavirus Relief Funds: Vermont will receive an estimated $961 million in state and local funds.
- $7.5 billion for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for vaccine distribution and administration, including assistance to state and local health departments.
- $5.2 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop and purchase additional vaccines.
- $4.5 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP is a vital lifeline to help Vermonters heat their homes during the cold winter months.
- $46 billion for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and mitigation measures.
- $7.6 billion for Community Health Centers to assist with COVID-19 response.
- $7.6 billion for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate Program to expand access to broadband and allow for the purchase of connected devices for students and library members.
The COVID relief package is expected to pass the House in the coming weeks before being taken up by the Senate.
Welch is a senior member of both the powerful Committee on Energy & Commerce and the Committee on Oversight & Reform. Both committees have broad jurisdiction over priorities important to Vermont.