By a vote of 403-12, this afternoon the House passed the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act to extend unemployment benefits, the homebuyers' tax credit, and tax relief for military families and businesses. While Senate Republicans delayed action on this bill for more than a month, it passed yesterday in the Senate by a unanimous vote of 98-0 and now goes to the President.
The legislation provides 14 additional weeks of unemployment benefits to jobless workers nationwide, with an extra six weeks for those in high unemployment states (over 8.5%) who are about to run out of benefits. To strengthen our housing market, it extends the first-time homebuyer tax credit through next spring, expands eligibility for the homebuyer credit, and provides housing tax relief on housing for our nation's military families.
Ways and Means Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Jim McDermott (D-WA):
Speaker Pelosi’s floor remarks in support of the bill:
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the gentleman for yielding and thank him for his long-standing leadership on this issue that relates to the economic well-being of America's families. Any time families gather across America at their dinner tables — to see how they are going to make ends meet, or struggle through the loss of a job — they know they have a friend in Jim McDermott in the Congress. This has been one of his premiere issues and he has served them and this Congress and this country excellently in that regard. And I thank him for bringing this legislation to the floor.
We passed this bill over a month ago — at long last it is back — but we're glad it is back, no matter how long it took. And I am pleased to rise to support the legislation. The bill will mark another step toward a boost in our economic growth and it will make critical investments for our families and our workers. The legislation offers a lifeline to out-of-work Americans, to the men and women hardest hit by the recession. By extending unemployment benefits — you've heard it over and over — by 14 weeks nationwide and extra 6 weeks in states suffering the highest jobless rates.
It's a smart choice for our nation's economy. Every dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates more than $1.60 in new economic demand. It's good for businesses, it's good for workers. This money, because it is so needed by these out of work families, will, again, be spent immediately, inject demand into the economy, creating jobs to the tune of $1.60 for every dollar.
It's hard to think of any other initiative we can name that is as beneficial to job creation. Its original purpose is fairness to those workers who have paid into the insurance system, and now they are getting insurance benefits, but it also has an impact as a stimulant.
It means more Americans will have access to the support and assistance that they need to get back on their feet, re-enter the workforce, and contribute to our economy and succeed.
The bill also a places a down payment on the future of our middle-class because it extends, for the first-time homebuyer, a tax credit helping more Americans purchase homes and making it a little easier for families to move into a new house and keep a roof over their heads. This initiative has already been successful. We've seen the positive impact — the steadier foundation in our housing market. Most significantly, we've watched a new generation of Americans start living out their dream of homeownership and economic security.
The bill also has the net operating loss carryback provisions, which businesses tell us is necessary for them to succeed and to hire new people and also to mitigate for some of the damage that has been done to the economy from past policies. Taking action now to turn around our economy is our most urgent and pressing challenge. It must be our top priority, regardless of party. And that is why I am so pleased that we're going to have such a strong bipartisan vote.
The nation's leaders have a responsibility to give every American the opportunity to recover, to thrive, to reap the rewards of our common progress, and to take part in our prosperity. Today's vote is about the never-ending effort to put our economy on the road to recovery, create jobs, and establish the building blocks for growth in the long-term.
President Obama has said over and over again, and so eloquently, that our success here would be measured only in the progress made by America's families. As they get back on their feet and as we help them address their economic struggles.
The economic security of America's families is important to them, to their children, to their children's future, and it is important to the strength of our country. For that reason I, again, commend Mr. McDermott and Mr. Brady and urge all Members to support this bill.