WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, on Saturday voted to pass the American Rescue Plan Act, legislation aimed at providing critical relief to millions of Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Rescue Plan Act, which is overwhelmingly supported by the American public, includes federal relief to increase vaccine production and distribution, safely reopen schools, provide direct payments to individuals and dependents, help state and local governments respond to COVID-19, and deliver support to businesses. In the bill, Murphy secured dedicated funding for summer enrichment programs.
“This bill is one the most important things I've ever done during my time in Congress. President Biden's rescue plan is going to save lives, through ramped up vaccination efforts and economic relief. The provisions of this bill, some of which I helped author, will allow us to safely reopen our schools, save tens of thousands of small businesses from extinction, and reduce childhood poverty by half. The country is on our side here and we were given a mandate to deliver. I applaud my colleagues for meeting this moment and the Biden administration for being laser-focused on containing this pandemic and giving the American people the kitchen table relief they deserve,” said Murphy.
Specifically, the American Rescue Plan Act provides:
· $350 billion to help states, localities, and tribes pay for the cost of responding to the Covid-19 emergency;
· $10 billion for the Defense Production Act to procure essential medical supplies and equipment;
· $14 billion to support vaccine distribution and $49 billion for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and genomic sequencing;
· Rescue checks of up to $1,400 for individuals, which in combination with the $600 checks enacted in December relief bill provide Americans with $2,000 in direct relief;
· $128 billion to help K-12 schools safely reopen and address students' academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, including $1.25 billion dedicated to support summer enrichment programs
· $40 billion to support colleges in meeting the needs of their students, including through providing support services and direct financial aid grants to students
· $40 billion to support child care providers and expand access to child care for low-income families as well as $1 billion for the Head Start program to provide early-childhood education and services to low-income children and families
· Additional SNAP benefits but extending the 15% increase to monthly benefits through September 30th, which was previously scheduled to lapse in June;
· $20.3 billion for rental assistance payments, building off the $25 billion already signed into law in December;
· $60 billion for small business relief including a $25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, and $15 billion for the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance program to help the hardest-hit small businesses;
· $50 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, including an additional $510 million for FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) to support homeless services providers;
· $1.7 billion for Amtrak relief funding as well as $30.5 billion to transit agencies and billions in additional assistance to airports and airlines;
· $35 billion to make the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges more affordable for working- and middle-class Americans and $11 billion in public health and primary care investments;
· $10 billion for global health activities to combat COVID-19 worldwide, supporting vaccine distribution, treatment, and humanitarian assistance;
· Expansions to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that could benefit millions of low-income Americans; and
· Expansions for unemployment programs and tax relief on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits to households with incomes under $150,000 a year.