The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every aspect of American life. As we navigate the next steps forward, I want to share some information with you.
THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. This law provided $1.9 trillion to put vaccines in arms, money in people’s pockets, children safely back in school, and people back in jobs.
Here’s more information on this historic legislation:
Puts Vaccines in Arms: The plan has mounted a national vaccination program that includes setting up community vaccination sites nationwide. It has taken complementary measures to combat the virus, including scaling up testing and tracing, addressing shortages of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies, investing in high-quality treatments, and addressing health care disparities.
Puts Children Safely Back in School: The plan has made a nearly $130 billion investment in school re-opening, making up for lost learning.
Puts Money in People’s Pockets: The plan finishes the job on President Biden’s promise to provide $2,000 in direct assistance to households across America with checks of $1,400 per person, following the $600 down payment enacted in December 2020. The plan also provides direct housing assistance, nutrition assistance for 40 million Americans, expands access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable health care, and extends and expands unemployment insurance so that 19 million American workers can pay their bills. The American Rescue Plan has supported 27 million children through an expanded Child Tax Credit and 15 million low-wage workers with the Earned Income Tax Credit. It has given 27 million workers a raise and has lifted one million out of poverty by raising the federal minimum wage.
Puts People Back to Work: The plan provides crucial support for the hardest-hit small businesses, especially those owned by entrepreneurs from racial and ethnic backgrounds that have experienced systemic discrimination, with EIDL grants, expanded PPP eligibility, and more. The plan also provides crucial resources to protect the jobs of first responders, frontline public health workers, teachers, transit workers, and other essential workers on which everyone in America depends.
Help is here, but we know more is needed to ensure we can safely and confidently move forward. No one is truly safe until the entire world is safe, and my Democratic colleagues and I will keep working to secure funding for the global pandemic response.
You can find a complete toolkit with more information on resources here.
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- A one-time cash payment of $1,200 for each individual adult earning up to $75,000 per year, with an additional $500 per child.
- Expanded unemployment insurance, including for part-time, self-employed, or gig economy workers.
- Forgivable loans for 8 weeks of payroll for employers with fewer than 500 employees, including a reduction in forgiveness if the company reduces employees or pay
- Requirement for private insurers and Medicare to cover coronavirus prevention and treatment
- Expanded healthcare access for veterans.
- Funding to support hospitals and healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Stabilization funds to support elementary and secondary school systems as well as higher education institutions, including support for the transition to remote learning and funds to support those with student loans.
INTERIM LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE TO COVID-19: The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act expands COVID-19 testing and deliver billions in critical aid to health care providers and small businesses. In the bill, a bipartisan agreement was reached to provide $310 billion in additional funding for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It also contains several key provisions added at the insistence of House and Senate Democrats, including:
- $25 billion to expand COVID-19 testing and a requirement that the Secretary of Health and Human Services submit to Congress a COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan no later than 21 days after enactment.
- $75 billion for hospitals and other health care providers to recoup losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and help them purchase desperately needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). $30 billion set-aside within PPP for small banks and credit unions and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), to ensure that financial institutions in Maine and other smaller states are not squeezed out by big banks.
- $60 billion to replenish the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and allow more $10,000 emergency grants for small businesses.
- Allowing small farmers to access the EIDL loan and grant programs.
CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT: In December of 2020, Congress passed H.R. 133, an omnibus spending bill consisting of all 12 fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills, coronavirus relief, and additional authorizations. Highlights of the COVID-19 relief package include:
- An additional round of direct stimulus payments worth up to $600 per adult and child
- An additional 11 weeks of eligibility for unemployment insurance, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, and a $300/week federal supplement through March 14th, 2021.
- $15 billion in grants for independent live venue operators, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, and movie theaters.
- A second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans targeted toward smaller and harder-hit businesses.
- $73 billion to support public health initiatives.
- A 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through June 30, 2021 and additional funding and flexibility in other anti-hunger programs.
- $25 billion for emergency rental assistance and an extension of the CDC eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021.
- $7 billion in investments to increase access to broadband, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit to help millions of students, families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic, $300 million for rural broadband, and $250 million for telehealth.
- An extended deadline to for state and local governments to spend CRF allocations from the CARES Act through December 31, 2021.
- $60 million to support small meat and poultry processors and alleviate bottlenecks in the food supply chain in line with the RAMP-UP Act.