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At First Full Committee Hearing of 117th Congress, Waters Urges Immediate Action on COVID-19 Relief

Chairwoman Stresses Urgent Need for American Rescue Plan

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement at a full Committee hearing entitled, “More than a Shot in the Arm: The Need for Additional COVID-19 Stimulus.”

Today this Committee convenes for our first full Committee hearing of the 117th Congress. This hearing is entitled, “More than a Shot in the Arm: The Need for Additional COVID-19 Stimulus.” Our focus today is the urgent need for Congress to provide additional stimulus to address the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

Following his decisive victory in the November election, President Biden has a mandate to move upon his agenda and lead the nation out of this crisis. Finally, we have real leadership in the White House to provide a serious and comprehensive response to this virus.

From his first day in office President Biden has been moving efficiently and effectively to right the ship and clean up the mess that his predecessor created. The stimulus package that Congress passed at the end of last year was a very first step, and served as an emergency stopgap to help individuals and families in distress, but it was clear then and remains clear now that much, much more relief is needed.

President Biden has put forth a sensible and well-designed proposal, called the American Rescue Plan, to provide $1.9 trillion in essential funding and relief to individuals, families and communities across the country. The American Rescue Plan provides additional direct stimulus payments, rental assistance, unemployment assistance, and emergency assistance for state, local, and territory governments, as well as other critical relief and measures to respond to the crisis.

Leading economists agree that it is critical for Congress to pass another large stimulus package. Federal Reserve Chairman Powell has also noted, “support from fiscal policy will help households and businesses weather the downturn as well as limit lasting damage to the economy that could otherwise impede the recovery.” According to the IMF, the Biden stimulus plan could boost United States output by 5% over three years.

Last year the United States economy shrunk by the largest amount since 1946. Around 1.2 million small businesses closed between February and June of last year. And communities of color continue to be the very hardest hit. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all job losses in December were jobs held by women, and women of color suffered the most job losses. These are not statistics that warrant a “wait and see” approach. These realities demand urgent action. They demand the American Rescue Plan.

This Committee has and will continue to play an essential role in providing much of this relief. The Administration needs critical funding to prioritize the development and production of desperately needed medical supplies under the Defense Production Act. Renters need additional assistance, including emergency housing vouchers to ensure people in rural, and suburban, and urban communities can remain stably housed. More funding is needed for persons experiencing homelessness, who face even greater health risks as a result of the pandemic. We must also address the reality that homeowners across America face a foreclosure crisis if Congress does not step in to support modifications before the pandemic ends. And this Committee will also need to come to the aid of businesses and their workers who are barely staying afloat, including small businesses, minority-owned businesses, and sectors hit hard like the airlines. Finally, with new, more contagious, and potentially more deadly, variants of the virus from the UK, Brazil, and South Africa all having now been detected right here in the United States, we need to mobilize the multilateral system and its institutions and it is very, very clear, this pandemic cannot be defeated until it is defeated everywhere.

And so, I look forward to hearing from all of our distinguished panel of witnesses on the need for relief and the proposal the Biden Administration has put forward.

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