Package delivers $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 disaster relief
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, on Friday announced the House of Representatives approved the American Rescue Plan, an approximately $1.9 trillion package providing COVID-19 relief to American families, businesses and communities.
In remarks on the House floor in support of the legislation, Higgins said, “The American rescue plan is bold action needed to meet this defining moment. …Wall Street and Main Street has always been a false choice. This is about the neighborhood streets and the homes where real families live and struggle every day to give their kids a fighting chance. So to give their kids a fighting chance, let the recovery begin.”
Below are highlights of the relief included in the American Rescue Plan:
•Direct Payments: Provides an additional $1,400 stimulus payment for individuals earning up to $75,000, heads of household earning up to $112,500, and joint filers with adjusted gross income up to $150,000.
•Unemployment: Expands pandemic unemployment insurance from $300 to $400 per week and extends the program through Aug. 29.
•Child Tax Credit (CTC): Increases the CTC from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child ($3,600 per child under age 6). This measure will lift 7.1 million people, including over 4 million children, out of poverty.
•Child Care Tax Credit: Families earning up to $125,000 are eligible to receive a credit for half of their first $16,000 in child care expenses and those earning up to $400,000 can receive a credit for at least 20% of the first $16,000.
•Paid Family & Medical Leave Credits: Extended through September.
•Affordable Health Care: Provides a subsidy for COBRA coverage premiums for eligible individuals who lost their job during the pandemic through Sept. 30, and reduces Affordable Care Act premiums.
•Food Security: Continues the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September, and includes an additional $750 million for senior nutrition programs.
•Child Protection & Intimate Partner Violence: $350 million to prevent and respond to child abuse and $450 million to address domestic violence, including over $25 million to New York.
•Heating Assistance: $4.5 billion for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
Businesses & Workers
•Small Business: $50 billion for small business relief including $25 billion to help struggling restaurants, $1.25 billion for Shuttered Venue Grants, $15 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and $7.25 billion for an expanded Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
•Community Navigator Pilot Program: Establishes a pilot program through 2025 to increase awareness, education and outreach on COVID relief available to small businesses, particularly minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.
•Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): Extends the EITC to childless workers, workers age 19-24 (who are not full-time students) and working seniors, and increases the maximum credit for childless adults. The credit is already available to low-income working families.
•State & Local Aid: $350 billion nationwide with an estimated $792 million for Erie and Niagara counties.
•K-12 Schools: $130 billion for elementary and secondary students, providing school districts in Erie and Niagara counties with an estimated $414 million.
•Higher Education: $40 billion for higher ed, including $9.474 billion for colleges in New York, with the requirement that 50% of the relief provided to colleges go directly to help students.
•Preschool: $1.832 billion for New York state to assist child care operators and over $59 million toward Head Start programs.
•Transportation: $30 billion will be allocated to transit agencies nationwide, plus an additional $8 billion to airports, locally directed to the Niagara Frontier Transpiration Authority (NFTA) to protect workers and services in Western New York.
•Homelessness: $4.75 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership program.
Retirees, Seniors & Veterans
•Multiemployer Pensions: Implements the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021, stabilizing multiemployer pensions, many of which go to front line workers including retirees who worked in the trucking, food and grocery industries.
•Elder Abuse: $276 million over two years to address abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly made worse by the pandemic.
•Veterans: $13 billion for VA health care, $400 million toward rapid retraining for unemployed veterans, $272 million to help mitigate the VA benefit backlog, and eliminates copays for preventative treatment.
•Nursing Homes: $450 million to help skilled nursing homes struggling with COVID infection and to deploy strike force teams to nursing homes dealing with an outbreak.
•Vaccines: $7.5 billion for the national vaccine distribution effort, $7.5 billion for additional FEMA vaccination sites, $5.2 billion to support further research, development and manufacturing of vaccines and therapeutic treatments for COVID and potential variants.
•Supporting Community Health Centers & Expanding the Health Workforce: $7.6 billion toward supporting health services and outreach conducted by Federally Qualified Health Centers like those in Western New York. $7.6 billion is dedicated to expanding the public health workforce.
•Testing & Tracing: $49 billion is directed to testing and tracing COVID, which is key to slowing the spread and reopening public places.
Higgins serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Budget Committee responsible for considering and advancing the legislation to full consideration in the House.
The American Rescue Plan now advances to the Senate for consideration.
Congressman Chris Jacobs, R-NY-27, issued the following statement after voting against the $1.9 trillion package.
“Today, we didn’t vote on a focused, fiscally responsible, or targeted COVID-19 relief bill. The bill before the House today was a partisan package designed to advance an agenda, not the needs of the American people. Sadly, Democrats have rejected over 200 attempts at bipartisan consensus to cut costs and improve this legislation.
“More support is needed to defeat COVID-19, and I would have supported a targeted measure that bolstered vaccine distribution, aided struggling local governments, and reopened schools. Yet only 9% of the total funding of this package goes to public health measures to defeat COVID-19, and only 5% of the $130 billion in school funding will be used this year. In fact, $670 billion of this total package will not even be spent in 2021.
“This bill should have focused on the immediate needs to protect Americans and reopen our country. However, with over $1 trillion still left unspent from previous aid packages and no bipartisan input to craft this legislation – the result can only be described as a disservice to the American people. While there are provisions in this bill I support, it contained numerous provisions that I could not in good faith support or justify.”