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02/24/2021

NLBMDA has concerns over latest COVID relief package

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) said that it has send sent letters to members of Congress regarding the latest COVID-19 relief package, saying improvements are needed.

Yesterday, Democrats on the House Budget Committee approved the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which would provide $1.9 trillion in COVID relief to individuals and businesses. 

Approval by the Budget Committee now paves the way for the bill to receive a vote on the House floor later this week. Congressional Democrats are moving forward with their plan to pass the bill using the budget reconciliation process which only requires a simple majority vote in both the House and Senate.

Letters were sent to  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), which address NLBMDA’s concerns regarding the House bill and provides recommendations on how to improve the bill in the Senate. 

The letters focus on key NLBMDA priority areas such as employer liability protections, supplemental unemployment insurance, the federal minimum wage and the PPP. 

Among many provisions, the new legislation would increase supplemental unemployment insurance to $400 per week through August, raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, and include funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and vaccine distribution. 

While the bill is expected to pass the House, the Senate’s 50-50 split among Democrats and Republicans means that Democrats will likely have to amend the final bill to gain the support of all 50 of their senators.

Senators Schumer and Sanders are leading the budget reconciliation process in the Senate, but both Manchin and Sinema have expressed concerns with the House bill and will have a significant influence on what provisions are included in the final COVID relief package.

Members can reach out to their elected officials in Congress in support of NLBMDA’s COVID-19 relief priorities by utilizing the Grassroots Action Center.

Here is a summary of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, as detailed by the NLBMDA:

  • Increases supplemental unemployment insurance from $300 to $400 per week through August 29.
  • Gradually raises the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2025.
  • Extends the employee retention tax credit through the end of 2021.
  • Extends voluntary paid leave tax credits for employers through September 30.
  • Provides funding for the following programs:
  • $7 billion for the PPP;
  • $15 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program;
  • $46 billion for vaccines, testing and tracing;
  • $1,400 in direct stimulus payments to individuals earning up to $75,000, phases out at $100,000; and
  • $350 billion for state and local government aid.