January 20, 2021
Biden’s American Rescue Plan Tops $1.9 Trillion
About an hour ago Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. The much discussed Biden-Harris American Rescue Plan will of course be a top priority for his Administration going forward. It is our understanding that the Rescue Plan will be rolled out in several phases beginning today when the President will issue 17 executive orders from the White House. The Orders are an attempt to immediately increase resources to address the COVID pandemic, and to put desperately needed funds in the hands of millions of Americans. Some of the Plan can be implemented through Executive Order while the remainder will be subject to the federal legislative process.
On Saturday, we sent all NYS Council members a new analysis from the Progressive Caucus Action Fund entitled Comparison of the Heroes Act and President-Elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan. This is a comparison of the Heroes Act, passed by the House on May 15, 2020 (H.R. 6800) and passed again in updated form on October 1, 2020 (H.R. 8406), against President-elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan released on January 14, 2021.
Here’s a link to the comparison document we first sent on Saturday that looks at the May 2020 House of Representatives Heroes Act vs. the American Rescue Plan:
And here is a link to Nonprofit Quarterly’s summary analysis of the Rescue Plan:
Below are some highlights from the Biden-Harris American Rescue Plan, beginning with several proposals of import to our field:
Expand access to behavioral health services. The pandemic has made access to mental health and substance use disorder services more essential than ever. The president-elect is calling on Congress to appropriate $4 billion to enable the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to these vital services.
Preserve and expand health coverage. Roughly two to three million people lost employer sponsored health insurance between March and September, and even families who have maintained coverage may struggle to pay premiums and afford care. Further, going into this crisis, 30 million people were without coverage, limiting their access to the health care system in the middle of a pandemic. To ensure access to health coverage, President-elect Biden is calling on Congress to subsidize continuation health coverage (COBRA) through the end of September. He is also asking Congress to expand and increase the value of the Premium Tax Credit to lower or eliminate health insurance premiums and ensure enrollees – including those who never had coverage through their jobs – will not pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for coverage. Together, these policies would reduce premiums for more than ten million people and reduce the ranks of the uninsured by millions more.
- $20 billion in a national vaccination effort to supplement existing state vaccination efforts. The addition of federal vaccine sites run by FEMA or the National Guard to help increase vaccination rates.
- $1,400 ($2,800 for families) of stimulus checks to eligible recipients. Adult dependents and household with mixed immigration will be eligible.
- Increase unemployment aid by an extra $400 weekly, from the $300 weekly addition by Congress’ December relief package.
- Increase the Affordable care Act’s premium subsidies, so those enrolled do not need to pay more than 8.5%.
- $4 billion for mental health and substance use disorder services.
- $20 billion to meet the health care needs of veterans.
- 15% increase in food stamps benefits through September, previously having an expiration date in June.
- $1 billion to U.S. territories in dire need of nutrition assistance.
- $3 billion for secure food supplies to women, infants, and children.
- $15 billion in grant money to small businesses.
- $35 billion investment in state, tribal, local, and non-profit financing programs to allow low-interest loans and provide entrepreneurs with venture capital.
- $25 billion in rental assistance for low- and moderate-income households who have lost jobs during the pandemic.
- $5 billion will be set aside for renters to pay utility bills.
- Extension of the federal eviction moratorium, set to expire at the end of January to September 30.
Child Care Providers
- $25 billion in emergency funds to help child care providers, along with $15 billion to existing grant programs.
Child Tax Credit
- Increased Child Tax Credit to $3,600 for children under age six and $3,000 for those between ages 6 to 7 for a year, fully refundable. Biden would also like to raise the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for a year to close to $1,500 for childless adults, increase the income limit for the credit to about $21,000 and expand the age range of eligibility to cover older workers.
- $350 billion to (among other things) provide state, local, and territorial governments funding to keep frontline workers employed, increase testing, reopen schools and maintain vital services.
- $20 billion for public transit agencies most affected to avert layoffs and cutting of transportation routes.
- Increase of minimum wage to $15 an hour.