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Waters Opening Statement at Full Committee Hearing on the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s Pandemic Response

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement at a full Committee hybrid hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s Pandemic Response.”

Welcome back, Secretary Yellen and Chair Powell.

As this pandemic continues, the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats continue to work around the clock to get essential relief to individuals, families, and small businesses across the country.

Following the catastrophic failure of the Trump Administration to tackle the pandemic crisis, the Biden Administration and Democrats in Congress swiftly moved to enact the American Rescue Plan, which provided $1.9 trillion to address the impacts of COVID-19. The legislation included billions in funding to support individuals and families, including renters, homeowners, and people experiencing homelessness, as well as small businesses during this crisis. We are also working together to put President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda into action by making long overdue investments into the nation’s housing programs, childcare, education, workforce and other critical aspects of our economy all while being completely paid for.

Democrats are also working to address the past failures of the Trump Administration’s approach to the pandemic. For example, we are working with Secretary Yellen and the Treasury Department to correct administratively burdensome requirements initiated by Republicans that made it harder for renters and landlords to obtain relief in the earlier versions of the Emergency Rental Assistance program. My legislation, the “Expediting Assistance to Renters and Landlords Act of 2021,” (H.R. 5196) would further speed up relief and cut down unnecessary barriers that are standing in the way of aid for renters and landlords.

Of course, the Federal Reserve has also played a part in the response to the pandemic through the creation of emergency facilities to help tackle the crisis. Until they were prematurely shut down by former Secretary Mnuchin, these facilities played a vital role in stabilizing financial markets last year. Moving forward, our Committee is committed to exploring ideas to ensure that facilities like these can more directly protect workers and support small businesses, as well as state and local governments, the next time there is a crisis.

Amid Democrats’ continuing efforts to ensure that relief reaches communities across the country and that our economy is strong for the future, Republicans continue to operate recklessly. Even now, Republicans are threatening to throw the economy into unnecessary turmoil by blocking legislation to suspend the debt ceiling. It’s completely unacceptable for Republicans to hold our nation’s economy hostage, especially in the middle of this continuing public health crisis and when fully one fourth of the increase in the debt ceiling is attributed to Trump’s tax scam for the rich.

Secretary Yellen, Chair Powell, I expect to hear your thoughts on these issues and to hear more about what will happen if Republicans force the country to default. I also look forward to discussing your ongoing work to respond to the pandemic today.

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