Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark, D-Massachusetts, voted to pass H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act, landmark, life-saving legislation that will provide urgently needed resources to defeat the virus, get vaccines in people’s arms, put money into families’ pockets, return children safely to the classroom, recover the child care sector and put people back to work.
The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 219-212 and will now move to the U.S. Senate.
“Over 2.3 million women have been pushed out of the workforce, 12 million children are going hungry and 40 million Americans are struggling to pay rent or their mortgage. The families that have been most impacted by this pandemic are suffering and need an urgent lifeline to weather this storm,” said Clark. “The American Rescue Plan provides direct payments, housing and nutrition assistance, an expanded child tax credit and a vital raise to the minimum wage. We’re facing historic challenges that we are meeting with bold solutions to crush the coronavirus and rebuild a stronger, more just America. My message to Massachusetts: help is on the way.”
The American Rescue Plan will save lives and livelihoods:
• Put vaccines in arms: The plan will mount a national vaccination program that includes setting up community vaccination sites nationwide. It will also take 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.
• Put children safely back in school: The plan will make a nearly $130 billion investment in school re-opening and making up for lost time in the classroom. These funds can be used for such things as reducing class sizes, modifying spaces so that students and teachers can socially distance, improving ventilation, implementing more mitigation measures, providing personal protective equipment, and providing summer school or other support for students that help make up lost learning time this year. The plan also provides resources for higher education, Head Start and $40 billion for child care facilities. Massachusetts would receive almost $2 billion in funds for the Commonwealth’s K-12 schools, approximately $525 million in emergency childcare funding, and $825 million in support funding for its higher education institutions.
• Put money in people’s pockets: The plan follows through 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. The plan will also provide direct housing assistance, nutrition assistance for 40 million Americans, expand access to affordable health care, extend and expand Unemployment Insurance so that 19 million American workers can pay their bills and support 27 million children with an expanded Child Tax Credit and 15 million low-wage workers through the Earned Income Tax Credit. It will give 27 million workers a raise and lift one million out of poverty by raising the federal minimum wage. Extend the federal supplemental unemployment benefit through August 29, 2021 and increase the weekly supplemental benefit from the current $300 per week to $400 per week. Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025, marking the first wage increase in more than a decade, guarantee that tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities are paid the full federal minimum wage – increasing wages for at least 27 million American workers. One in four Black or Latina women would benefit from this raise.
• Put people back in jobs: The plan will provide 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 that all Americans depend on: $195.3 billion for states to keep first responders, frontline health workers, and other providers of vital services safely on the job. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts would receive $4.5 billion: $130.2 billion to local governments to prevent cutting essential services. Massachusetts’ local governments would receive a total of $3.7 billion.
“Massachusetts schools, families and frontline workers will benefit directly from this legislation,” said the Assistant Speaker. “It will provide over $8.2 billion to the Commonwealth and local municipalities to keep frontline workers employed and essential services open, including the vaccine distribution program. Further, our schools will receive $2 billion to help reopen classrooms safely and over $525 million will be provided to the child care sector, a vital pillar of our economy that was devastated by the pandemic and for too long, has been undervalued and underinvested in. This legislation is about our recovery but also about our future.”
The American Rescue Plan is supported by a majority of the American people — including 60% of Republicans — bipartisan state and local leaders, national education groups, trade unions and advocacy organizations, and hundreds of businesses and chambers of commerce. Economists agree that the American Rescue Plan’s targeted, evidence-based action is needed — both for families going through hardships and for the American economy. The legislation’s provisions will generate $1.25 for every $1 of spending, will cut child poverty in half and will lift nearly 12 million people out of poverty.
“It’s better to err on the side of too much rather than too little,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. “Interest rates are at zero, inflation is low, unemployment is high. You don’t need a textbook to know this is when you push on the fiscal accelerator.”
The American Rescue Plan would be the most comprehensive COVID-19 relief package to date and the first emergency funding legislation passed during the Biden administration.
Original story here.