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House votes to pass American Rescue Plan Act: President Biden expected to sign measure

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The House of Representatives voted 220-211 on Wednesday to send the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act to President Joe Biden’s desk.

Along partisan lines, again, as with last week’s 50-49 vote in the Senate, but hey, this qualifies as progress in Dysfunction Junction.

“This strong, coordinated effort to protect our most vulnerable, reopen our businesses, and get our children fully back to school is a wise investment in our post-COVID-19 future,” Seventh District Democrat Abigail Spanberger said. “We are making progress, but we need to keep our foot on the gas. I look forward to President Biden signing this legislation into law as soon as possible.”

“For every $1 spent, this legislation will inject $1.25 into the economy, creating an additional 10 million jobs and cutting child poverty nearly in half,” Second District Democrat Elaine Luria said. “It would have otherwise taken four years for GDP to return to pre-pandemic levels without this bold plan to restore the economy, and it would have taken a full year longer to return to full employment. As we are finally beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, this legislation is necessary to recovering from the pandemic and building a stronger economy in the years to come.”

Wet blanket alert.

“This is bill is a missed opportunity for our nation. Government should serve the people, and not the other way around. I voted no the first time, and I am voting no once again,” First District Republican Rob Wittman said. “The American people deserve real, targeted relief, not to serve as pawns in the Democrats’ game. If the Majority wishes to serve the American people, then I invite them to join me in working to reopen our schools and rebuild our economy.”

Um, that’s exactly what this legislation is aimed toward.

  • Strengthening funding for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing: The relief package includes billions of dollars in additional funding for COVID-19 vaccination and testing efforts — including more than $20 billion in additional funding to establish a national vaccination strategy to improve the administration and distribution of vaccinations. Additionally, the legislation provides an extra $49 billion to expand testing, contact tracing, and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Supporting small business through the Paycheck Protection Program and new supports for restaurants and bars: The American Rescue Plan Act includes an additional $7.25 billion in PPP funding and extend eligibility of nonprofits — excepting certain organizations including 501(c)4 lobbying organizations. Additionally, the emergency relief package would create a Restaurant Revitalization Fund through the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide $25 billion in assistance for restaurants and bars with fewer than 21 locations — with $5 billion set aside for smaller establishments that had less than $500,000 in 2019 annual revenue.
  • Extending unemployment insurance: The American Rescue Plan Act would extend both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation through Sept. 6. Both programs are set to expire on March 14. Additionally, the legislation would extend the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation through Sept. 6, and it would exempt up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 from federal income taxes for households making less than $150,000.
  • Providing emergency rental assistance to working families: The legislation would provide $21.55 billion for emergency rental and utility assistance to states, counties, and cities to ensure families can remain in their homes, stabilize renters, and protect rental property owners.
  • Increasing the Child Tax Credit: The American Rescue Plan Act would make the Child Tax Credit fully refundable for 2021 and increase the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child ages six to 17, making 17-year-olds qualifying children for the year. The credit would be $3,600 for children under age six.
  • Delivering direct payments: The American Rescue Plan Act would provide additional direct payments — or “stimulus checks” — of $1,400. Under the bill as currently written, 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 would receive the full payment of $1,400 per person.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press