Congressman Cohen Votes for the American Rescue Plan Act
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) early this morning voted for the American Rescue Plan Act, a major effort to address the coronavirus pandemic and its unprecedented economic consequences. The vote on passage at 2:04 a.m. was 219 to 212.
Congressman Cohen made the following statement:
“This historic pandemic has called for historic legislation, and I’m proud to have voted for the American Rescue Plan Act and its critical provisions for the people of Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District. The measure provides for the manufacture and distribution of the life-saving vaccines that will get us out of this crisis while assuring those thrown out of work have access to unemployment benefits set to expire next month. It provides direct cash payments, refundable child tax credits, and other assistance that will help working and middle class Americans. It strengthens the American safety net with support for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and provides aid to state and local governments to support our front-line heroes. There are specific provisions to help restaurants, airports and airline employees and colleges and universities, while improving programs created last year to focus on the crisis, such as the Paycheck Protection Program. This is a major investment in America and is a true ‘rescue plan’ to address the nation’s dire needs.”
An Overview of Some of the Various Key Provisions in the Bill
Direct Payments to Working Families & Expanding Child Tax Credit
- Providing Working Families an Additional Direct Payment of $1,400 Per Person – Bringing the Total Relief Payment to $2,000 Per Person; 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.
- Making the Child Tax Credit Fully Refundable and Increasing Its Size for 2021: The bill makes the child tax credit fully refundable for 2021 and increases the annual amount from the current $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6).
Aggressive Action to Speed Up COVID-19 Vaccinations and Contain the Virus
- Providing Over $20 Billion to Establish A National COVID-19 Vaccination Program and Improve the Administration and Distribution of Vaccinations, Including:
- Providing $7.5 billion for the CDC to prepare, promote, distribute, monitor, and track COVID-19 vaccines.
- Providing $5.2 billion to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support advanced research, development, manufacturing, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, and ancillary medical products for COVID-19.
Providing Nearly $130 billion to Help K-12 Schools Re-Open Safely.
- This bill makes 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.
- Includes Funding to Support Colleges and Universities. This bill includes nearly $40 billion for institutions of higher education to help make up for lost revenue due to the pandemic.
Currently, Federal Unemployment Benefits Expire on March 14. The bill 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.
Expanding Subsidies in ACA Marketplaces. The bill significantly expands the subsidies in the ACA Marketplaces to cover more middle class families and to be more generous for those already receiving them, for 2021 and 2022.
New Incentives for Medicaid Expansion: The bill provides a new incentive for the 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid to do so by temporarily increasing the base Federal Medical Assistance
Percentage (FMAP) by five percentage points for two years for any state that newly expands.
Provides $26 Billion for Emergency Rental Assistance, to Help Ensure Struggling Families Continue to Have a Safe Place to Live During This Pandemic: The bill provides $26 billion in rental assistance: $21.2 billion for emergency rental and utility assistance to states, territories, counties, and cities to help stabilize renters during the pandemic.
Providing $4.5 billion to HHS for home energy assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Makes Key Investments in Food Security. In response to persistent hunger in communities across the country, this bill helps combat increasing food insecurity with key investments in SNAP, WIC, Pandemic EBT and other critical nutrition assistance, including extending SNAP maximum benefits by 15 percent (through September 30, 2021)
Providing An Additional $1 Billion for TANF: The bill provides an additional $1 billion for states to cover the additional cash assistance that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients needed as a result of the economic crisis.
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.
Creates a Restaurant Revitalization Fund: The bill provides $25 billion for a new program at SBA to offer assistance to restaurants and bars with 20 or fewer locations that have been hit hard by the pandemic. $5 billion is set aside specifically for smaller establishments with less than $500,000 in 2019 annual revenue. During the first 21 days, applications from restaurants owned and operated by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals will receive priority.
Providing $350 billion For New Coronavirus Relief Funds To Help Keep First Responders, Frontline Health Care Workers, and Other Essential Workers on the Job. The bill provides $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 critical workers include frontline health care workers, police, firefighters, transit workers, teachers, EMS, and other vital workers who help keep us safe.
Invests in Our Nation’s Transit Systems Hard Hit by the Coronavirus Pandemic Keeps Amtrak Fully Operational: This bill includes $1.5 billion to keep Amtrak fully operational through the end of FY 2021, ending worker furloughs and restoring full service. This includes $820 million for the Northeast Corridor and $680 million for the National Network.
Provides Emergency Assistance to Airports and Helps Protect Aviation Industry Jobs: This bill includes:
- $8 billion to support airports across the country as well as airport concessions and their employees.
- $15 billion to extend the Payroll Support Program through September 30, 2021 stopping furloughs and layoffs for workers employed by airlines, cargo air carriers and contractors servicing air carriers at airports.