Congressman Panetta Works on Major COVID Rescue Legislation As Member of the House Ways and Means and Agriculture Committees

February 12, 2021
Press Release
Congressman Panetta’s SOS Act and funding for farmworkers included in House version of the pandemic relief package

This week, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) directly worked on over a half of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Rescue legislation that is in the U.S. House of Representatives.  As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Panetta attended 18 hours of hearings that took place over two days, and as part of the Agriculture Committee, Congressman Panetta attended a seven-hour hearing.  The committees’ work was on multiple COVID-related issues including extending unemployment insurance, delivering more direct assistance to Americans, and supplying vaccines to communities across the country, including farmworkers.  


“The work that we did on my committees over those two days this week will bolster our communities’ fight against the disease and guide our country’s economic recovery throughout this year,” said Congressman Panetta.  “As a member of these committees and, more importantly, as the federal representative for the Central Coast, I’ll continue to be a part of the fight for legislation that supports our local businesses, workers, and families to ensure their health and economic wellbeing as we continue to endure during this pandemic. 


As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Panetta successfully incorporated his legislation, the SOS Act, into the COVID-19 relief package.  Under the SOS Act, nursing strike teams are deployed to nursing homes and long-term care facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks to protect staff and those in their care.  Upon passage of the relief bill, $200 million will be allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to deploy these strike teams.


“I worked hard to get my legislation, the SOS Act, included in the package,” said Congressman Panetta.  “Fortunately, a majority of my colleagues agreed with me that our nation’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities need more resources to keep staff and those in their care safe from COVID-19 outbreaks.”


As a member of the Agriculture Committee, Congressman Panetta successfully fought for provisions in the legislation that will go towards securing our food supply chain, protect essential agricultural workforce from the virus, and bolster our food security.  


“I fought for and secured $3.6 billion in funding that will protect farmworkers from COVID-19, including funding for more vaccinations,” said Congressman Panetta.  “Additionally, I worked with my colleagues for further funding to help our local specialty crop producers distribute their products to individuals in need.”


The American Rescue Plan will be voted on in the House in the coming weeks.  Upon House passage, the Senate will take up the legislation.  Reconciliation bills requires a majority vote to pass and are not subject to the Senate’s filibuster.  Upon Senate passage thereafter, the legislation will go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.


As a member of the Ways and Means and Agriculture Committees, Congressman Panetta helped secure the following provisions in the COVID-19 relief bill:


  • $1,400 stimulus checks, including adult dependents and children of immigrant parents, bringing their total relief to $2,000 per person
  • An increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • An increase of the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per child and $3,600 per child under six years of age, making it fully refundable and paid monthly, which will reduce child poverty
  • Extension of paid leave tax credits and providing access to these credits to state and local governments.
  • Elimination of taxes on Economic Injury Disaster Loan grants and new relief fund grants for restaurants
  • Extension of the Employee Retention Tax Credit
  • Extension of temporary federal unemployment benefits through August 29, 2021
  • An increase in the weekly federal supplemental unemployment benefit from $300 to $400
  • $1 billion in additional funding for a Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund for families in need
  • A permanent increase in annual funding for the Child Care Entitlement to States (CCES) to $3.4 billion per year
  • 85% subsidy for continuing health insurance coverage for those who were laid off or furloughed. The subsidy is extended to September 30, 2021
  • $88 million to fully fund activities of the Elder Justice Act (EJA) for fiscal year (FY) 2021 and an additional $188 million for FY 2022
  • The inclusion of the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 to create a special financial assistance program that ensures multiemployer pension  plans can continue paying retirees’ benefits
  • $3.6 billion in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding to purchase and distribute food to individuals in need, protect agricultural workers from COVID-19, and improve agricultural supply chain resilience
  • $800 million in funding for the Food for Peace program, a federal program that purchases American-grown commodities and pre-positions those commodities as food aid to fight global hunger during the pandemic
  • Over $1 billion in funding to support financial training, the development of legal centers, grants and loans to improve land access, and research activities as minority serving institutions, including Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), for socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and groups who have historically faced discrimination by the USDA
  • A 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through September 30, 2021
  • $37 million in funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to ensure low-income seniors can continue to access nutritious foods