Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement in opposition to the Democrats’ partisan COVID relief bill.
Rep. LaMalfa said, “Over $1 trillion in COVID relief remains unspent, but Democrat leaders are shamelessly pretending we must approve this partisan slush fund or risk the collapse of our entire pandemic recovery. With only nine percent of its funding going to COVID health spending and less than half authorized to be spent this year, this bill is in no way timely or even necessary. The numerous beneficiaries of this so-called COVID relief include union pensions, Planned Parenthood, the National Endowment for the Arts, and even a bridge in Senator Schumer’s state of New York and a tunnel in Speaker Pelosi’s backyard.
“I am also troubled that this bill does nothing to address the issue of unemployment insurance penalties and identity theft that will be affecting millions of Americans, both of which result in surprise tax bills that our constituents had not counted on at all. My amendments to help people with these worsening problems were rejected outright by Democrat leadership.”
Rep. LaMalfa has been a leader in Congress calling for a bipartisan solution for several surprise consequences and complications affecting millions of Americans receiving unemployment benefits in the past year. Nearly 44 million Americans filed for unemployment last year, with many unaware that UI benefits were considered taxable income. Making the problem worse, state agencies, including the California Employment Development Department, were inconsistent in withholding projected federal income taxes on both the state benefit and federal supplemental paid through COVID relief legislation, causing unforeseen taxes being due at filing for millions of Californians due to state incompetence. Additionally, millions of Americans have had their identity stolen and used to illegally collect unemployment benefits over the past year. Yet, they only find out they are victims when a 1099-G tax form arrives in the mail claiming they owe hundreds or thousands of dollars in taxes on unemployment benefits they did not apply for, or receive.
LaMalfa authored three amendments to alleviate these issues. His first amendment would exclude unemployment compensation from gross taxable income for 2020, effectively reducing taxes for those receiving UI. His second amendment would defer penalties and interest on unpaid tax liabilities on unemployment compensation for 2020, helping millions set to be penalized because of state agencies. Finally, he offered an amendment to codify, authorize, and direct the Department of Justice to continue operating the National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force to combat international identity theft and unemployment fraud. Unfortunately Democrat leadership did not allow the amendments to be considered.
LaMalfa cosponsored four additional amendments to the bill, all of which Democrats blocked:
- Rep. Stefanik’s amendment to prohibit institutions of higher education from receiving funds from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund if they have a partnership in effect with any entity owned or controlled by the government of the People’s Republic of China or organized under the laws of the People’s Republic of China.
- Rep. McMorris’s amendment to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to subsidize health plans that cover elective abortions, and prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars authorized for public health grants and the delivery of health services that are not directly related to preventing and treating COVID-19, to be used for elective abortions.
- Rep. Glenn Thompson’s amendment to make critical investments in programs which serve rural families, businesses, and communities by providing assistance for biofuels producers, producers suffering disaster losses, rural hospitals and educational facilities, rural broadband services, and rural utility providers and businesses.
- Rep. Hagedorn’s amendment to prevent any funds from being obligated until 90% of current COVID-19 relief funds allocated by Congress have been expended on a program-by-program basis. This does not apply to any funds appropriated for COVID vaccine deployment, testing, or PPE.
LaMalfa supported all five bipartisan COVID relief bills passing the House last year.
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