Washington, D.C. – This morning, Congressman Jake Auchincloss (MA-04 which includes southern Massachusetts and Fall River), voted for passage of the American Rescue Plan, which includes wins for the fourth district that Auchincloss called for in a letter to House and Senate leadership earlier this month. House Democrats are hoping that the passage of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will put a dent in the virus, return children safely to the classroom, put dollars into families’ pockets, and get people back to work.
“We are in a race between vaccinations and variants. It was essential to go big and bold with a relief package,” said Auchincloss. “We must rapidly expand access to vaccines, return our children to in-person learning, and re-open the economy. This isn’t just about crushing COVID-19, it’s about fairness in how we recover. This relief package recognizes the urgent need to end this virus and invest in the American people. We have the resources, it’s time to act. I urge swift passage from my colleagues in the Senate so we can vaccinate our constituents, get our children back to schools, and return people to work.”
The Act passed on a party-line vote of 219 to 212. Democrat Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Jared Golden of Maine were the only two to break party lines and vote against the bill.
According to State House News, the package includes direct payments of up to $1,400 for individuals, provide between $300 and $400 in weekly unemployment insurance supplements, make $130 billion available to help schools reopen, and would establish an enhanced child tax credit that would provide families with $3,600 per child younger than 6 and $3,000 per child up to age 17, split into monthly payments over a year.
Auchincloss stated that district wins in the American Rescue Plan include:
Funding for a national vaccine program to help supply meet demand and get as many Americans vaccinated as soon as possible: Specifically, the bill provides $10 billion to boost domestic production of critical PPE, secure supply chains and increased capacity for vital vaccine production and to help onshore production of rapid COVID-19 tests.
Clear federal guidance, technical assistance and funding to scale up testing and contact tracing to reopen schools and childcare centers: The bill will mount a national vaccination plan 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 inequities. The plan will also make investments necessary to safely reopen schools. 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. This includes; repairing ventilation systems, reducing class sizes and implementing social distancing guidelines, purchasing personal protective equipment, and hiring support staff to care for students’ health and well-being. The bill also ensures 20 percent of the funding that schools receive must be reserved to address and remediate learning loss among students.
Rental and homeowner assistance to prevent evictions and foreclosures: 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, and help rental property owners of all sizes continue to cover their costs; $5 billion for emergency vouchers to transition those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking to stable housing; $100 million for rural housing; $750 million for Native American housing; $100 million for housing counseling; and $20 million for fair housing.
Relief for public transit agencies: Transit ridership plummeted 79 percent in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill includes $30 billion for transit agencies across the country to prevent, prepare and respond to the continued threat of the pandemic.
The bill now heads to a split Senate where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.