Washington, DC – Around 2AM Saturday morning, Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15) voted to pass H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act, landmark, life-saving legislation that will provide urgently-needed resources to defeat the virus, get vaccines in people’s arms, put money into families’ pockets, return children safely to the classroom, and put people back to work.
“Bronx families’ lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis. These hard-working Americans cannot afford further delay, which is why I proudly joined my colleagues to pass President Biden’s bold, strategic relief package that delivers the long-overdue resources needed to meet the needs of New York and communities and families across the country. With tens of millions of Americans infected, more than half a million lives lost, millions more unemployed and food and housing insecure, the time for action is now, and we will not be deterred from this critical mission,” said Congressman Torres.
The Biden American Rescue Plan will save lives and livelihoods:
- Put Vaccines in Arms: The plan will mount a national vaccination program 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 care disparities.
- Put Children Safely Back in School: The plan will make a nearly $130 billion investment in school re-opening and making up for lost time in the classroom. These funds can be used for such things as reducing class sizes, modifying spaces so that students and teachers can socially distance, improving ventilation, implementing more mitigation measures, providing personal protective equipment, and providing summer school or other support for students that help make up lost learning time this year. The plan also provides resources for higher education, Head Start and child care facilities.
- Put Money in People’s Pockets: The plan finishes the job on the President’s promise to provide $2,000 in direct assistance to households across America with checks of $1,400 per person, following the $600 down payment enacted in December. The plan will also provide direct housing assistance, nutrition assistance for 40 million Americans, expand access to safe and reliable child care and affordable health care, extend and expand Unemployment Insurance so that 19 million American workers can pay their bills and supporting 27 million children with an expanded Child Tax Credit and 15 million low-wage workers through the Earned Income Tax Credit. It will give 27 million workers a raise and lift one million out of poverty by raising the federal minimum wage.
- Put People Back In Jobs: The plan will provide crucial support for the hardest-hit small businesses, especially those owned by entrepreneurs from racial and ethnic backgrounds that have experienced systemic discrimination, with EIDL grants, expanded PPP eligibility and more. The plan also provides crucial resources to protect the jobs of first responders, frontline public health workers, teachers, transit workers and other essential workers that all Americans depend on.
The American Rescue Plan is strongly supported by a large majority of the American people – including 60 percent of Republicans – bipartisan state and local leaders, national education groups, trade unions and advocacy organizations, and hundreds of businesses and chambers of commerce. Economists agree that the American Rescue Plan’s targeted, evidence-based action is needed – both for struggling families and for the American economy. The legislation’s provisions will generate $1.25 for every $1 of spending, will cut child poverty in half and will lift nearly 12 million people out of poverty. As Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics, has said, “It’s better to err on the side of too much rather than too little. Interest rates are at zero, inflation is low, unemployment is high. You don’t need a textbook to know this is when you push on the fiscal accelerator.”
If the American Rescue Plan is not passed by the Senate and enacted now, the results could be catastrophic, with 4 million fewer jobs this year, according to Moody’s, and it could take a year longer to return to full employment. An entire cohort of young people may have lower lifetime earnings because they were deprived of another semester of school. Millions of parents, particularly mothers, could be forced to stay at home, reducing their wages and job prospects because they have no choice but to care for their kids. And without this package, it will take another four years of suffering before real GDP returns to its pre-pandemic levels, according to the nonpartisan CBO.
“With House passage of the Biden American Rescue Plan, New Yorkers can rest assured that Help Is On The Way. As the bill goes to the Senate for further actions, I will continue to work to ensure that this essential legislation gets to the President’s desk to be signed before unemployment benefits expire in March. With the cost of inaction growing and families struggling in every community in every state, I call on Republicans to end their partisan obstruction and join us as we not only meet the needs of our constituents but Build Back Better,” said Congressman Torres.