Courtney Votes to Pass Long-Awaited COVID-19 Aid Package, The American Rescue Plan Act
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass The American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319), a bill that would authorize comprehensive, long-awaited and urgently needed funding to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and to help Americans build back from the economic fallout it has caused. The American Rescue Plan Act would commit more than $20 billion to establish a national COVID-19 vaccination program and to improve distribution of vaccines nationwide, and would provide new support for working families and unemployed Americans, small businesses and nonprofit organizations, and more.
The bill includes provisions authorized by Rep. Courtney and the Education and Labor Committee that would provide $130 billion in relief aid for schools and childcare centers nationwide, including an estimated $1.2 billion in relief for K-12 schools in Connecticut, and $128 million for schools in the Second Congressional District. H.R. 1319 would also provide states, local municipalities, and U.S. territories with $350 billion in new relief funds to address the Coronavirus pandemic, and to help keep critical workers on the job. Updated funding projections for eastern Connecticut towns and cities will be available soon.
“Eastern Connecticut families, small business owners, and services from our schools, to our police departments and fire houses have all made clear that they need more support right now,” said Congressman Courtney. “They’re not alone—just this week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors wrote to Members of Congress urging them to support new relief for their struggling towns through the American Rescue Plan. There were 32 Republican mayors who signed that letter, and dozens of their fellow Democratic mayors—the fact that people need more help isn’t a partisan issue, it’s the reality we’ve got to face. The American Rescue Plan Act is the pandemic relief that people have been desperate for and counting on. It’s going to direct critical funding straight to eastern Connecticut families, small businesses, schools, police and fire departments, and I was proud to help get the job done tonight on their behalf. The Senate shouldn’t waste any time—this bill will provide strong support for eastern Connecticut.”
The American Rescue Plan Act includes crucial new assistance for farmers, veterans, seniors, essential frontline workers, and for many others. The bill provides more than $3.6 billion to USDA to increase commodity purchases from farmers for food distribution; includes more than $13 billion for the VA to improve health care services and related support; invests more than $1.4 billion to strengthen critical programs for older adults and seniors; and would provide new workplace protections for essential workers, and ensure workers’ compensation coverage for frontline maritime and federal workers.
Among its many provisions, the House’s American Rescue Plan Act:
Increases the Direct Payments to Working Families, and Expands the Child Tax Credit
- The bill would provide working families an additional direct payment of $1,400 per person—more than the CARES Act of 2020. Under the bill, single filers with incomes up to $75,000, head of household filers with incomes up to $112,500, and joint filers with incomes up to $150,000 will receive the full payment of $1,400.
- The American Rescue Plan Act would make the Child Tax Credit fully refundable for 2021 and would increase the annual amount from the current $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6).
Takes Aggressive Action to Speed Up COVID-19 Vaccinations and Contain the Virus
- H.R. 1319 would provide over $20 billion to establish a national COVID-19 vaccination program and to improve the administration and distribution of vaccinations nationwide, including $7.5 billion for the CDC to prepare, promote, distribute, monitor, and track COVID-19 vaccines, and $7.5 billion for FEMA to establish vaccination sites across the country.
- The bill would provide $51 billion to implement a national strategy for testing, contact tracing, surveillance, and mitigation; and the manufacturing, procurement, distribution, and administration of tests, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies necessary for administration of the tests. Additionally, these funds can be used to help mitigate COVID-19 in congregate settings by improving infection control and providing needed supplies.
- H.R. 1319 would fund Defense Production Act activities to close the gap in domestic manufacturing to fulfill U.S. public health needs. Specifically, the bill provides $10 billion to boost domestic production of critical PPE, secure supply chains and increased capacity for vital vaccine production and to help onshore production of rapid COVID-19 tests.
Provides Resources Needed for Schools to Stay Open, and to Re-Open Safely
- H.R. 1319 would make nearly $130 billion available to states and school districts for immediate and long-term relief so they can work with public health experts to safely re-open schools and make up for lost time in the classroom. This includes repairing ventilation systems, reducing class sizes and implementing social distancing guidelines, purchasing personal protective equipment, and hiring support staff to care for students’ health and well-being.
- The bill ensures that 20% of the funding that K-12 schools receive must be reserved to address and remediate learning loss among students.
- The bill contains nearly $40 billion for institutions of higher education to help make up for lost revenue due to the pandemic. Requires institutions to dedicate at least half of their funding for emergency financial aid grants to students to help prevent hunger, homelessness and other hardships facing students as a result of the pandemic.
- The Congressional Research Service estimates that based on the language Rep. Courtney and the House Education and Labor Committee authorized, Connecticut would receive $1.2 billion in relief for K-12 schools, $371.4 million for institutions of higher education, $277 million to child care centers, and $6.6 million for the state’s Head Start programs.
- Rep. Courtney announced that eastern Connecticut K-12 school districts are projected to receive an estimated $128 million. Click here for a full list of funding allocations.
Extends Unemployment and Health Benefits
- Currently, federal unemployment benefits expire on March 14. H.R. 1319 extends the federal supplemental unemployment benefit through August 29 and increases the weekly supplemental benefit from the current $300 per week to $400 per week.
- The bill also extends both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program through August 29.
- The American Rescue Plan Act provides that any individual who receives unemployment at any point in 2021 is treated as if their income were 133% of the poverty level for the purposes of the ACA marketplace subsidy. As a result, they can purchase an ACA silver plan for zero premium.
- For workers who have lost their jobs or reduced their hours, the bill provides an 85% subsidy to pay for COBRA employer-sponsored health benefits so workers can continue their coverage and stay connected to their providers, available through September 30, 2021.
Provides New Assistance to Homeowners, Renters, and Landlords
- H.R. 1319 provides $26 billion for Emergency Rental Assistance to help ensure struggling families continue to have a safe place to live during the pandemic, and to help rental property owners of all sizes continue to cover their costs
- The American Rescue Plan Act would provide $10 Billion to help homeowners struggling to afford their housing as a result of the pandemic
- The bill supports solutions for Americans facing homelessness, and would provide $4.75 billion for state and local governments through the HOME Investment Partnership program to finance supportive services, affordable housing and the acquisition of non-congregate shelter spaces for the hundreds of thousands of Americans experiencing homelessness
- The bill would also provide $4.5 billion to HHS for home energy assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Makes Important Investments in the Agriculture Sector and Food Security
- The American Rescue Plan Act would provide $3.6 billion to USDA to increase commodity purchases for food donation programs; to improve worker safety with resources for food and agriculture businesses to purchase PPE, test kits, and other essentials to keep workers safe; and more. The funding comes on the heels of new USDA funding authorized in H.R. 133, where the majority of UDSA’s CFAP funding is housed.
- The bill would provide $500 million in USDA rural initiatives to help hospitals expand vaccine distribution, purchase needed medical supplies, bolsters telehealth capacity and helps hospitals facing lost revenue and high costs.
- The bill makes key investment in food security programs, and extends SNAP benefits by 15% through September 30, 2021.
- The bill would also provide $1.1 billion in additional SNAP administrative funds to states to help meet the demand of increased caseloads, and $25 million to improve the state SNAP online pilots.
- H.R. 1319 would allocate $800 million for WIC, supporting low-income women and infants, and would temporarily boosts the value of WIC Cash Value Vouchers for vulnerable mothers and their children.
- The American Rescue Plan Act would maintain and extend the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program, investing more than $5 billion in P-EBT so that low-income families have access to school meals and food assistance during both the school year and summer months.
Provides New Support for American Small Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations
- The American Rescue Plan Act increases Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding and expands eligibility to ensure it reaches nonprofits of all sizes and types. The bill includes $7.25 billion in additional funding for PPP and expands eligibility of 501(c) nonprofits of all sizes and types, except for 501(c)4 lobbying organizations.
- H.R. 1319 would create a Restaurant Revitalization Fund, providing $25 billion for the new program at SBA to offer assistance to restaurants and bars with 20 or fewer locations that have been hit hard by the pandemic.
- The bill includes an additional $15 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advances to help those who applied for relief in 2020 but did not receive the full $10,000 grant.
Authorizes Support for State and Local Government, First Responders, and Essential Workers
- H.R. 1319 would provide $350 billion for new Coronavirus relief funds for states, localities, the U.S. Territories, and the Tribal Governments, to help keep critical workers on the job. These include frontline health care workers, police, firefighters, transit workers, teachers, EMS, and other vital workers who help keep us safe. The bill provides that the funds must be used to address the pandemic or its negative economic impacts, including to replace revenue lost, delayed, or decreased as a result of the pandemic.
- H.R. 1319 would strengthen workplace protections for essential workers, providing the Department of Labor with $150 million to implement COVID-19 worker protection programs and continued UI oversight – including at least $75 million for OSHA enforcement.
Supports Veterans and Servicemembers
- The American Rescue Plan Act would ensure that veterans will not have any copays or cost-sharing for preventative treatment or services related to COVID-19 going back to April 2020, and authorizes the VA to reimburse those veterans who already submitted payments for their care during this period.
- The bill includes more than $13 billion for VA to provide health care services and other related supports – including suicide prevention, Women’s health services, telehealth expansion, medical facility improvements
- The bill provides nearly $400 million for up to 12 months of retraining assistance for veterans who are unemployed because of the pandemic and do not have access to other veteran education benefits. This funding covers the cost of the rapid retraining program as well as a housing allowance for enrolled veterans.
- H.R. 1319 includes $272 million for the VA to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the benefits claims and appeals backlog.
- The bill would provide emergency paid sick leave for VA’s frontline and essential health workers.
For a fact sheet on the American Rescue Plan Act, click here.