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Ahead of the vote on President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package, lawmakers presented an array of misleading allegations to promote their position on the bill. Here is a fact check of some common talking points.

WHAT HAS BEEN SAID

“It’s supposed to be a Covid bill. Only 9% of that amount goes to Covid. – Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and leader of the parliamentary minority, in an interview this week on Fox News.

This is misleading. A spokeswoman for Mr McCarthy said the 9% referred to the $ 160 billion for a national immunization program, expanded testing and a public health jobs program, as reported by the Biden administration. In other words, 8.4%, or $ 160 billion of the $ 1.9 trillion package, is allocated specifically to the fight against the coronavirus.

But that’s a rather narrow interpretation of pandemic-related funding. The bill also includes other health expenses like subsidizing insurance coverage for laid-off workers, extending paid sick leave and funding veterans care.

And like the first two relief bills signed by President Donald J. Trump and an alternative measure proposed this year by 10 Republican lawmakers, much of the Biden plan is devoted to providing financial assistance to families and businesses affected by the economic effects of the pandemic. Stimulus checks of $ 1,400 and extending unemployment benefits are the two biggest individual expenses, according to a breakdown by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

WHAT HAS BEEN SAID

“We have analyzed the numbers and here is your receipt, @SpeakerPelosi @SenSchumer,” Senator Marsha Blackburn this week on Twitter, breaking down the bill into categories like arts, museums and library services; Pelosi metro; services, including family planning; and “climate justice”.

This is misleading. Tennessee Republican Ms Blackburn accused Democratic leaders of drafting a $ 1.9 trillion bill that amounted to a liberal “wish list.” But the four specific funding areas she highlighted total $ 547 million, or about 0.03% of the $ 1.9 trillion total.

“The Pelosi Metro” refers to a project to expand the Bay Area rapid transit system to downtown San Jose – which is an hour south of San Francisco and represented by the president of the district, Nancy Pelosi. The project is actually in the district of another Democrat, Representative Zoe Lofgren.

A spokeswoman for the House transport committee said the BART extension was not receiving special funding, but rather “was simply funded proportionately” to other similar projects across the country.

Overall, the bill includes $ 30 billion to help transit agencies, the bulk of which covers the costs of operating transit systems across the country. About $ 1 billion of that goes to a Department of Transportation grant program to ensure that transit projects already approved – like the BART extension as well as rail improvements in Republican-led states like the Indiana and Arizona – remain solvent.

“Art, Museums and Library Services” refers to the $ 135 million earmarked for the National Endowment for the Arts and $ 200 million for the Institute of Museums and Libraries.

The bill also allocates $ 50 million to family planning projects, which Ms. Blackburn called “services including family planning.” The group is not explicitly mentioned in the bill, but it has already received family planning grants. Other fellows include state and local health agencies (including the Tennessee Department of Health’s Family Planning Program) and other nonprofit organizations.

Another $ 50 million is set aside for “environmental justice purposes,” the bill says, and aims to address health disparities resulting from pollution and the pandemic.

WHAT HAS BEEN SAID

“There are bailouts at Planned Parenthood, stimulus grants to families of illegal immigrants.” – Rep. Jim Banks, Republican of Indiana, in an interview this week on Fox News.

This is misleading. Mr. Banks’ assertion about “illegal immigrant families” receiving stimulus grants refers to families with mixed immigration status, not families all of whose members are undocumented. Under the bill, couples who jointly file their taxes must have only one valid Social Security number to receive a stimulus check. But the amount would be $ 1,400 for an individual, not $ 2,800 for a couple.

In other words, US citizens or legal residents married to undocumented immigrants would receive the $ 1,400, but not their spouses.

The first two rounds of stimulus tests had the same conditions with virtually identical language.

WHAT HAS BEEN SAID

“There is over a trillion dollars of unspent money in previous relief bills that were bipartisan. The money is still in a bank account. –Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, in an interview this week on ABC.

“If you think about what’s happened before, $ 4 trillion in stimulus has been adopted. There is still a trillion dollars, or almost a trillion dollars, that has not even been spent yet. – Sen. Bill Hagerty, Republican of Tennessee, in an interview this week on Fox Business.

This is misleading. In an editorial published this month by The Washington Post, Mr Scalise joined with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s coronavirus spending tracker as the source of the claim. According to the tracker, around $ 3 trillion has already been spent. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that a trillion dollars will go unused.

The think tank explained in a blog post in January that “a large part is already allocated or should be spent, and a small part will never be spent.” About $ 775 billion in “unspent” funding came from the $ 900 billion stimulus package signed at the end of December, according to the blog. The funding that should be distributed over time (Medicaid loans and spending), as well as data lags, also explain part of the disparity.

WHAT HAS BEEN SAID

“In fact, 95% of that money can’t even be spent until 2022. Do you really want to wait until 2022 for your child to go back to school? This bill will actually delay the reopening of schools. It’s crazy. ”- Mr. Scalise in an interview this week on Fox News.

“We have to learn and follow science and get children back to school. This bill does not do that. –Mr. McCarthy, in an interview this week on Fox News.

This is misleading. The bill sets aside $ 128.5 billion for funding K-12 schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that $ 6.4 billion would be spent in fiscal 2021, which ends in September.

But the budget office also said the rate of spending it estimated was “subject to considerable uncertainty.”

In a letter to congressional leaders, educational groups wrote that the idea that schools did not need more funding because of the amount they would spend this year was “inaccurate.”

“In conversations with our respective members, they report that while the ‘expense rate’ may seem quite low to those unfamiliar with the procedures and financial requirements of state and district schools, they have budgeted for every dollar they should be getting relief bills from Covid. and always anticipate greater costs than they can afford without additional federal funds, ”the groups wrote.

A spokeswoman for Mr McCarthy also noted that the bill “gives no assurance to families that schools will reopen” and that the funding was not tied to the reopening of schools.

Nothing in the bill explicitly delays the reopening of schools, nor does it make funding conditional on reopening. But a spokesperson for the House Education and Labor Committee noted that this was never planned.

“Our position has always been that these decisions should be made by local school districts in consultation with public health officials,” said Joshua Weisz, director of communications for the committee. “Congress should not force schools to reopen.”

WHAT HAS BEEN SAID

“If we don’t adopt the American Rescue Plan, 40 million Americans will lose their nutritional assistance because of a program we call SNAP, the old food stamp program. Are we not investing between $ 3 billion and $ 3 billion to prevent families from going hungry? – Mr. Biden speaking last week at a Pfizer factory.

It’s exaggerated. As FactCheck.org noted, the White House transcript of Mr. Biden’s remarks added “some of” in parentheses before the words “nutritional assistance.” This is because failure to pass the bill would not cause Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to lose all of their benefits. On the contrary, the stimulus package signed in December temporarily increased the benefits of food stamps by 15 percent from January to June. The current bill and Mr. Biden’s plan would extend that increase until September.

WHAT HAS BEEN SAID

“For example, if it were – if we gradually increased it – when we indexed it to $ 7.20, if we kept it indexed by – inflation, people would earn $ 20 an hour in that. moment.” – Mr. Biden last week at a CNN town hall event.

False. The federal minimum wage was last raised to $ 7.25 in July 2009, which, if indexed to consumer inflation, would be around $ 8.81 today. Mr. Biden probably meant “worker productivity” instead of inflation. Dean Baker, an economist at the Left Center for Economic and Political Research, estimated that if the minimum wage had kept up with productivity, it would be around $ 24.

We appreciate readers’ suggestions and advice on what to look out for. E-mail and Twitter.





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