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The American Rescue Plan Supports Children, Families and Seniors, and Authorizes a Boost to Veterans and VA Health Care

March 16, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) released detailed information today on how the American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319) supports nutrition for children, families and seniors, provides a boost to veterans while the economy continues to recover, and authorizes new health care resources for the VA. The American Rescue Plan originated in the House of Representatives, and authorizes a new round of support for a host of critical nutrition programs, as well as co-payment relief for veterans for COVID-related care, new support for VA health care services, job retraining for veterans, and more.

Rep. Courtney voted to pass the final American Rescue Plan Act on March 10th, and it was signed into law by President Biden on March 11th.

“You don’t have to look farther than the long lines at drive-through food banks all over eastern Connecticut—people are still climbing out of this, and they need more support,” said Rep. Courtney. “We need a comprehensive response to power our economic recovery, and the American Rescue Plan gets help where it’s needed most right now. The bill provides a new round of assistance to seniors and families struggling with reduced income so that they can put healthy food on the table, and it gives a real boost to veterans through direct financial relief and new job skills training opportunities. My office is here to help all of our regions seniors, veterans and others navigate these new resources, and I’ll keep working across the aisle to make sure people in eastern Connecticut get the support they need.”

Among its many provisions, the American Rescue Plan:

Provides Critical Support to Nutrition Programs for Children, Families, and Seniors

  • The American Rescue Plan increases Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15% for six months, through September 30, 2021, for all program participants
    • The law allocates $1.1 billion in grants to state to help pay for expenses associated with expanding SNAP benefits
    • The law also provides funding to support the development of technology improvements that make it easier to use SNAP for online purchases, like remote food delivery
  • The law refuels the Commodity Supplemental Food Program with $37 million. This program provides direct food assistance to seniors, and funds would remain available through the end of FY2022
    • This funding comes on the heels of new support authorized in December through H.R. 133, which included $175 million in support for nutrition programs for seniors through the Older Americans Act, like Meals on Wheels
  • H.R. 1319 authorizes increased benefits for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Fruit and Vegetable Benefits, providing USDA with $490 million for states to increase benefits to $35 per-month for a four-month period through September 30, 2021

Authorizes Financial Relief and Job Training Support for American Veterans, and New Support for the VA

  • The law provides the VA with $14.5 billion to keep up with COVID-related care, including information technology, enhanced facility requirements, and increased resources for veterans experiencing homelessness, or who are in need of mental health services
  • The American Rescue Plan authorizes $1 billion in debt forgiveness for veterans who receive health care through the VA, related to copayments, cost sharing or for care and prescriptions provided between April 6, 2020 and September 30, 2021.
  • The law also authorizes $386 million to provide up to 12 months of job training and employment assistance for veterans who lost their job due to the pandemic. This training would help equip them with skills or certifications needed to enter high-skill, high-pay fields
  • H.R. 1319 would help veterans obtain money they are owed, authorizing $262 million to reduce the backlog in compensation and pension claims, which stands at 212,000 outstanding claims
  • The law authorizes $500 million in grants, and $250 million in payments to state homes to improve living conditions for veteran residents

For more information on the House’s American Rescue Plan Actclick here. Rep. Courtney will continue to provide detailed information on H.R. 1319 in the coming days.