Special Report: In The First 100 Days, The Biden Administration and Senate Democratic Majority Have Delivered Critical Support For The American People

Post: Biden Stimulus Showers Money On Americans, Sharply Cutting Poverty And Favoring Individuals Over Businesses New York Times: New Stimulus Package Brings Big Benefits To The Middle Class USA Today: Restaurants, Bars Decimated By Pandemic Getting Billions From Biden's COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

April 27, 2021

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President Biden and Senate Democrats promised real support for American families who continue to struggle because of the COVID-19 pandemic – and within the first 100 days of the Biden presidency and the Senate Democratic Majority, we have delivered.

 

Underserved and struggling communities across the country are already seeing the benefits of the sweeping American Rescue Plan passed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans in Congress. More than 160 million direct checks have already hit bank accounts, but that is just the beginning.

 

The American Rescue Plan delivers billions in rental assistance to keep people in their homes; provides schools the support they need to get our kids back to in person learning; extends unemployment benefits for those out of work because their lives were derailed by the pandemic; makes critical investments to shore up earned pensions for workers; secures historic funding for Native communities; helps hungry families put food on the table; and expands critical health care benefits and cost savings. In the coming months, American families will continue to see the benefits of this legislation as they start receiving thousands of dollars a month thanks to an expansion of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit; desperately-needed funding for local music and cultural venues, bars, restaurants, and other small businesses will be distributed; and millions of Americans will qualify for a refund on their unemployment insurance.

 

Senate Democrats fought to deliver this historic support within the first 100 days to get our nation back on track. Republicans opposed it, despite the broad, bipartisan support among the American public, with 73% supporting the package and a 56% approval rate among Republicans.

 

 

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SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

 

 

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New York Times: In the Stimulus Bill, a Policy Revolution in Aid for Children. “Obscured by other parts of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which won Senate approval on Saturday, the child benefit has the makings of a policy revolution. Though framed in technocratic terms as an expansion of an existing tax credit, it is essentially a guaranteed income for families with children, akin to children’s allowances that are common in other rich countries. The plan establishes the benefit for a single year. But if it becomes permanent, as Democrats intend, it will greatly enlarge the safety net for the poor and the middle class at a time when the volatile modern economy often leaves families moving between those groups. More than 93 percent of children — 69 million — would receive benefits under the plan, at a one-year cost of more than $100 billion.” [New York Times, 3/7/21]

 

Mass Live: Stimulus checks update: Nearly 2 million more payments sent via American Rescue Plan; Total rolled out so far reaches roughly 161 million. “Nearly 2 million more economic impact payments are being sent out via the American Rescue Plan this week, soon bringing the total number of coronavirus stimulus checks disbursed so far to roughly 161 million, the federal government said.” [Mass Live, 4/23/21]

 

NPR: Tax Credit Could Lower Child Poverty More In 2021 Than Any Other Year In U.S. History. “We're talking about 66 million kids getting more money. We're talking about several million kids who now live in poverty being kept out of poverty. And the gist of the new policy is an increase in the child tax credit of up to a thousand dollars per child, and then an extra $600 on top of that for children under the age of 6. But the really big anti-poverty component here is that we would for the first time allow workers with the lowest earnings - those who have lost their job and have struggled in this tough, tough labor market to have even modest earnings - we would allow them to get the maximum credit for their kids, and that would just be life-changing for many of these children and their families.” [NPR, 3/8/21]

 

AP: Biden expanding summer food program for 34M schoolchildren. “The Biden administration is expanding a program to feed as many as 34 million schoolchildren during the summer months, using funds from the coronavirus relief package approved in March. The Agriculture Department is announcing Monday that it will continue through the summer a payments program that replaced school meals because the pandemic left many children with virtual classes. Families of eligible children would receive $6.82 per child for each weekday. That adds up to $375 per child over the summer months.” [AP, 4/26/21]

The Hill: USDA increasing SNAP benefits with pandemic relief funds.
 “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Monday that it would be increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, by 15 percent through funds from Democrats' $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.” [The Hill, 
3/22/21]

 

[Washington Post, 4/22/21]

 

Fox Business: Child tax credit to begin for families in July, IRS says. “The IRS plans to begin distributing the new $3,000 child tax credit authorized under President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan beginning in July. Commissioner Chuck Rettig confirmed this week while testifying before the Senate Finance Committee that the agency is poised to have the program up and running by July.” [Fox Business, 4/16/21]

 

New York Times: How Can Schools Use $129 Billion in Covid Relief Funds? “The $1.9 trillion relief plan has a lot of money going to education. About $129 billion goes directly to K-12 education. Before a school reopening summit meeting on Wednesday, President Biden announced the release of $81 billion of the funds. Separately, colleges and universities will get about $40 billion.” [New York Times, 3/24/21]

 

CNBC: Lawmakers provide K-12 schools and colleges with $170 billion in funding to help get kids back in classrooms. “Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines last month that indicated schools could reopen before all teachers receive the Covid-19 vaccine, the agency recommended that districts adhere to strong hygiene, masking, physical distancing and sanitation guidelines. All of that takes funding — and lawmakers are attempting to provide it. The latest Covid-19 relief bill signed by President Joe Biden on Thursday allocates nearly $170 billion to K-12 schools and colleges to help fund initiatives such as installing ventilation systems, reducing class sizes, implementing social distancing processes, hiring additional staff and purchasing personal protective equipment for teachers, staff and students.” [CNBC3/11/21]

 

New York Times: Biden’s Aid Package Funnels Millions to Victims of Domestic Abuse. “Tucked into President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package are tens of millions of dollars for organizations dedicated to curtailing domestic abuse, which skyrocketed during the pandemic, as well as vouchers for people fleeing violence at home, to help them find safe shelter and rebuild their lives.” [New York Times, 3/18/21]

 

PROVIDING HEALTH CARE AND SAVINGS FOR MILLIONS OF AMERICANS

 

AP: COVID Bill To Deliver Big Health Insurance Savings For Many. “Taken together, the components of the coronavirus bill represent the biggest expansion of federal help for health insurance since the Obama-era Affordable Care Act more than 10 years ago. “Obamacare” not only survived former President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to tear it down but will now get a shot of new life.” [AP, 3/8/21]

 

Forbes: The $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Offers Great News On Health Insurance; Here Are The Provisions That Cut Insurance Costs. “Nearly 15 million uninsured Americans could now qualify for subsidies if they enroll through Healthcare.gov, but the impact on coverage expansion may be broader. According to Chen, 25 million Americans could benefit from the new law, including 13.2 million Americans who can now access heavily subsidized insurance through the Marketplace; 1.5 million who could save money by switching their individual insurance for coverage from the Marketplace; and 10 million who are already in a Marketplace plan but will save money through more generous subsidies.” [Forbes, 3/12/21

 

US News: States Move Ahead on Medicaid Extension to Improve Maternal Health. “Several states are taking the first steps in what advocates say could be a big move in improving maternal health in the U.S., using a tiny provision in the American Rescue Plan. That provision would allow states to easily extend Medicaid coverage to low-income people up to one year after they've given birth…. In the U.S., more than 40% of births are covered under Medicaid. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicaid covers roughly two-thirds of births among Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women. However, low-income people who become eligible for the health insurance program are covered for just 60 days after giving birth. Losing coverage after that time, advocates say, can have fatal outcomes.” [US News, 4/15/21]

 

New York Mag: Stimulus Spurs New Push for Red-State Medicaid Expansion. “As Jonathan Chait noted in an analysis before the bill was enacted, the stimulus bill significantly boosted Obamacare’s insurance-purchasing subsidies “across the board,” with especially significant improvements made for middle-class families denied assistance by steep subsidy phase-outs. But another provision depends on subsequent action by the 12 states that have stubbornly refused to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, made an option by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012. It increases the already generous federal share of the cost of expansion from an initial 90 percent to 95 percent. When you add in indirect savings generated by the expansion, as Chait puts it: ‘[S]tates taking the Medicaid expansion would have more than 100 percent of the cost covered by Washington. They would literally have to pay for the privilege of denying coverage to their poorest citizens.’” [New York Magazine, 3/23/21]

Vox: Nearly 7 Million Uninsured Americans Qualify For Free Health Insurance. “After the passage of President Joe Biden’s first Covid-19 relief plan, nearly 7 million uninsured Americans now qualify for free health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, according to new federal projections shared exclusively with Vox. The American Rescue Plan (ARP), which takes effect on Thursday, expanded eligibility for the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies — federal aid to help people pay for insurance plans bought on the individual marketplace. It also made the subsidies more generous for the people who already qualify for them. It expanded the number of people currently without any insurance coverage who could enroll in a plan for free.” [Vox, 4/1/21]

 

DELIVERING RELIEF FOR WORKERS AND SMALL BUSINESSES

 

 

 

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AP: Restaurants Are Big Beneficiaries Of COVID-19 Relief Bill. “Restaurants devastated by the coronavirus outbreak are getting a lifeline from the pandemic relief package that’s awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature. The bill that gained final congressional approval Wednesday adds money to the Paycheck Protection Program and provides indirect help to small businesses in general through stimulus payments and unemployment benefits. But restaurants got the biggest share of direct help: $28.6 billion in grants for restaurants whose revenue fell in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.” [AP, 3/10/21]

 

Rolling Stone: Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan Gives Struggling Venues a Needed Boost. “Struggling music venues across the country received an added lifeline after the Senate and House of Representatives passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package known as the American Rescue Plan on Wednesday. President Joe Biden signed the legislation Thursday, March 11th. The new aid package includes an additional $1.25 billion in funding for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (originally known as the Save Our Stages Act), which was part of last year’s Covid-19 relief package.” [Rolling Stone, 3/10/21]

 

Asheville Citizen Times: Restaurant, Bar Owners Get Long-Awaited Relief Through American Rescue Plan. “Restaurant owners are celebrating after the passage of the American Rescue Plan, including two local chefs who helped lobby congress on behalf of cohorts across the country.  President Joe Biden on March 11 signed the $1.9 trillion bill which, along with other pandemic aid, directs $28.6 billion in relief to restaurants and bars. The grant program, modeled on the Restaurants Act that stalled last year in the Senate, will funnel debt-free aid to independent restaurants with 20 or fewer locations.” [Asheville Citizen Times, 3/16/21]

 

Forbes: New Stimulus Package: Unemployment Benefits, $300 Per Week Extended Until September. “The stimulus package signed into law on Thursday by President Joe Biden extends unemployment benefits for millions of American workers who are still dealing with the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.” [Forbes, 3/12/21]

 

CNBC: IRS refunds will start in May for $10,200 unemployment tax break. “The IRS will start issuing tax refunds in May to Americans who filed their returns without claiming a new break on unemployment benefits, the federal agency said Wednesday. The American Rescue Plan waived federal tax on up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits, per person, received in 2020. Households with $150,000 or more in income are not eligible for the tax cut. President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion relief law during tax season, on March 11.” [CNBC, 3/31/21]

 

CBS News 19: Billions For Small Businesses Included In New Stimulus Relief Package. “After long congressional negotiations, the American Rescue Plan was finally signed into law by President Joe Biden this week. While many Americans are looking forward to stimulus payments through the plan, billions were also included to support small businesses.” [CBS News 19, 3/14/21]

Huffington Post: Democrats’ Relief Bill Shores Up A Million People’s Pensions. That’s A Huge Deal. “The $1.9 trillion deal includes another round of stimulus checks, an extension to federal unemployment benefits, billions in aid for cities and states, and an increased child tax credit. In fact, the legislation includes so many notable, big-ticket provisions that it’s gaining almost no attention for another notable feature: rescuing the pensions of more than 1 million workers and retirees. The Senate bill, like the version that recently came out of the House, addresses what has become a crisis among multiemployer pension plans. These plans are negotiated between unions and employers in fields where workers tend to change jobs a lot, like construction, trucking and mining. Some of them have fallen into rough shape as industries have changed and union jobs have disappeared.” [Huffington Post, 3/7/21]

 

Forbes: How The American Rescue Plan Act Will Help More Than A Million Retirees And Workers. “Good news on the retirement-income front. Some 1.5 million workers and retirees faced the real risk that their pension incomes would be slashed over the next 20 years or significantly sooner. But the American Rescue Plan Act just signed by President Joe Biden will prevent that from happening. That's because the massive legislative package includes the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021. It restores to financial health more than 100 failing pension plans known as multiemployer plans (they covered more than one company's employees) for union workers.” [Forbes, 3/12/21]

 

MAKING HISTORIC INVESTMENTS IN UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES

 

 

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Huffington Post: Democrats Just Approved The Biggest Investment In Native Programs In U.S. History. “When Senate Democrats narrowly passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Saturday, they also passed the U.S. government’s largest-ever investment in Native American programs. The bill, which is expected to pass the House and be signed into law by President Joe Biden as soon as this week, includes more than $31.2 billion for tribal governments and Native communities. The money will go directly to helping American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians focus on economic recovery in their communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Huffington Post, 3/8/21]

 

New York Times: Tribal Communities Set to Receive Big New Infusion of Aid. “After a year that provided stark new evidence of how racial inequities and a lack of federal funding had left tribal communities and Indigenous people especially vulnerable to crises like the pandemic, President Biden and Democrats in Congress are seeking to address those longstanding issues with a huge infusion of federal aid. The $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law last week by Mr. Biden contains more than $31 billion for tribal governments and other federal programs to help Native populations, a record level of assistance intended to help bolster health care and a variety of other services in some of the nation’s poorest communities.” [New York Times, 3/18/21]

 

Washington Post: Relief bill is most significant legislation for Black farmers since Civil Rights Act, experts say. “A little-known element of President Biden’s massive stimulus relief package would pay billions of dollars to disadvantaged farmers — benefiting Black farmers in a way that some experts say no legislation has since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Of the $10.4 billion in the American Rescue Plan that will support agriculture, approximately half would go to disadvantaged farmers, according to estimates from the Farm Bureau, an industry organization. About a quarter of disadvantaged farmers are Black. The money would provide debt relief as well as grants, training, education and other forms of assistance aimed at acquiring land.” [Washington Post, 3/18/21]

 

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