Legislative update

Insights & Analysis

Last updated on:
March 15, 2021

OVERVIEW

American Rescue Plan

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law after it passed the Senate 51 to 50 — thanks to VP Harris’ vote on March 6 — and passed the House 220 to 211 with just one Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden (ME), joining all the Republicans in voting against it on March 10. Funding is primarily dedicated to COVID-19 health services and economic stimulus for individuals and businesses. States receiving the most funds include CA with $42.6 billion, TX with $27.6 billion, NY with $23.8 billion, PA with $13.7 billion and OH with $11.2 billion, among others. 

See more details on the bill, including a section-by-section analysis.

Appropriations & Earmarks

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled its plan to bring back earmarks in the form of Community Projects with strict standards for even being considered, including securing a state resolution or newspaper article(s) stating the need for funding as well as a limited number of accounts under which a nonprofit or local government can apply, spanning from healthcare services to educational programming to defense R&D to transportation construction to economic development. Contact me for details or assistance.

HEALTH

The American Rescue Plan addresses several key health issues:

  • $20 billion for vaccine administration and distribution, $1 billion for the CDC to launch a vaccine awareness and engagement campaign and $7.5 billion to set up vaccination sites across the country
  • $12.667 billion to expand Medicaid home- and community-based services through which states can recruit and train workers, purchase personal protective equipment and testing supplies, offer wage increases and benefits or reduce wait lists among seniors and people with disabilities who wish to receive home-based care​​​​
  • $500 million for nursing home strike teams to manage COVID-19 outbreaks and $200 million for infection control and vaccination technical assistance
  • $1.4 billion for vaccination outreach, education, transportation to appointments for seniors, efforts to reduce social isolation for those restricted to their homes and funding for home-delivered and congregate meals
  • 100% coverage of COBRA premiums for laid-off workers and reduced health insurance premiums for millions of families 

Separate from the American Rescue Plan, the Administration announced $250 million in health literacy grants to localities to partner with community-based organizations to encourage COVID-19 safety and vaccination among underserved populations. The initiative will be run by the Office of Minority Health (OMH) and will fund approximately 30 projects in urban communities and 43 projects in rural communities for two years, capped at $4 million each. 

See more details on this new initiative, Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19.

DEFENSE

The Pentagon is crafting their FY2022 budget plan that totals $708 billion, essentially a flat budget. Pentagon personnel are working under “not to exceed” guidance from the Office of Management and Budget rather than the formal “passback” that sets the budget specifics and which hasn’t yet been provided as the full budget won’t be released until April.

Track updates on the Defense budget.

 

ECONOMIC 

Unemployment

The stimulus package provides direct relief in the form of a $1,400 check to 85% of households and extends federal unemployment benefits so individuals will continue to receive $300 per week until September 6, 2021. This ensures payments continue past the previous stimulus bill’s March 14 expiration date. It also provides $350 billion to prevent layoffs of firefighters, law enforcement officers, public health staff and other critical workers nationally.

Local Governments

The American Rescue Plan provides $350 billion to states, territories, Tribes and local governments for COVID-19 response activities to offset revenue losses, bolster economic recovery and provide premium pay for essential workers. In addition, it includes a new $10 billion Critical Infrastructure Projects program to help to carry out critical capital projects, directly enabling work, education and health monitoring, including remote options.

Small Businesses

The package provides $10 billion to support small businesses battling the negative effects caused by the pandemic and ensures businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals have access to proper funding and resources to successfully apply for various support programs. Included in this bill is $500 million for “very small businesses” (fewer than 10 employees or independent contractors and sole proprietors) and $28.6 billion in grants for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. 

See more details on SBA's efforts to help businesses.

Childcare Assistance

The new law provides $39 billion for childcare providers and expands the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to allow households to recoup up to $4,000 for childcare expenses for one child or up to $8,000 for two or more kids.​​​​​​​

Rental Assistance

The American Rescue Plan extends tens of billions of dollars in rental and homeowners assistance that will benefit lower-income, disproportionately Black and Brown, renters and homeowners.

STEM & INNOVATION

Schools have been hard hit during the pandemic, so the Department of Education will convene a virtual National Safe School Reopening Summit this month, and Congress allocated dedicated funding in the American Rescue Plan. Congress provides $40 billion for higher education and $121.975 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) III as follows:

  • Local education agencies (LEAs): $21.9B for learning recovery, afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs 
  • State education agencies (SEAs): $1.22B for summer enrichment, $1.22B for afterschool programs and $6.1B for learning recovery, including afterschool/summer/expanded learning

For more details on schools, track updates here.