Washington, D.C. - Following the enactment of the American Rescue Plan into law, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), and Hispanic Federation President and CEO Frankie Miranda held a press call today outlining how this sweeping federal recovery package will assist fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. Below are leader Schumer’s remarks, which can also be heard here. The Fact Sheet on Puerto Rico Wins can be found here.
“Hi everybody, and let me thank my two dear friends. Congresswoman Velázquez, she and I steered this package to get it done, and she has been la luchadora, the fighter, for Puerto Rico. We have been a great team doing that and she is the greatest. It wouldn’t have happened without her. And second Frankie Miranda, the CEO of the Hispanic Federation. He’s only been there a short while and he has been a great leader of the Hispanic community throughout New York and the country.
So today is a very, very good day for Puerto Rico: this is the largest, most complete package of aid for Puerto Rico that has come down the pike in a very, very long time. We know how our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico have suffered.
Four years ago, we watched in horror as Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, claiming thousands of innocent American lives. The Trump administration, it’s no secret, did not do very much for Puerto Rico, and the Puerto Rican people knew it. So we knew it was our obligation—our obligation—to make sure that Puerto Rico was not left behind when it came to COVID relief. According to the CDC, Puerto Rico has a very high level of COVID-19. So we knew that we had to fight, and fight very hard, and as I said, this is the largest, most complete package for aid to Puerto Rico in a very, very long time.
And we, of course, we know all of the things that have been done in the ARP—which will put vaccines in people’s arms, put money in family bank accounts, help our schools reopen safely—but we went further and tried to undo many of the injustices that have been leveled at Puerto Rico in the past. So let me go over them.
First, the federal government will strengthen Puerto Rico’s Earned Income Tax Credit by providing three dollars for every dollar provided by the Puerto Rican government. That’s quadrupling—quadrupling—the size of the program. So if Puerto Rico chooses to expand the EITC, the federal government will cover the cost of this expansion up to three times the amount. That could be $600 million a year to Puerto Rico to strengthen this important credit. And we’ve pushed for this in the past, but this money is going to go directly into the pockets of struggling Puerto Ricans, and it’s crucial because 43% is in poverty.
Just as good, we’ve corrected the inequity—the vicious, nasty inequity—in the federal Child Tax Credit which makes families in Puerto Rico eligible for the credit only if they have three or more children. That was a dagger directed at the heart of Puerto Rico. That was bigoted, in my opinion. This bill makes the full federal CTC fully available to Puerto Rican families no matter how many children they have, ensuring they can access the same tax relief as their fellow citizens in the U.S.
Importantly, they can also benefit from this temporary expansion of the CTC, this Child Tax Credit for 2021, which includes increasing the credit to $3000 per child ages 6-17 and $3600 per child under age 6. This will start in the next few months, and it will put money in the pockets of so many Puerto Rican families who have children, so they can live a better life.
We’ve also provided a million dollars in rural transit funding, and $118 million in urban transit funding for the 11 regions of the island including San Juan, Ponce, Fajardo. And it’s going to harness sustainable infrastructure.
We’re keeping families safe in their homes so they won’t be booted out cause of COVID. We gave Puerto Rico over $370 million in rental and mortgage and homeless assistance.
We have $47 million for airports, for 10 airports located in Puerto Rico.
We increased the weekly unemployment benefit amount from around $200 a week to nearly $500 per week through the $300 supplemental.
We make workers and families in Puerto Rico eligible, of course, for the additional round of $1400 payments for individuals – $2800 for married couples, $1400 per child. A family of four in Puerto Rico will get a $5600 check in the next week or two. Those checks are coming.
We provided $308 million for childcare and $3 billion for elementary school and funding relief for Puerto Rico.
What this bill does is it treats Puerto Rico fairly and equitably. It makes up for some of the past injustices that were done to the people of Puerto Rico, and will allow Puerto Rico to dig itself out of the trench of COVID, and get its economy going—I believe—in a way much stronger than it has ever gone in the last few years, even pre-COVID. We had to fight very hard to make sure, Nydia and I did, to make sure Puerto Rico was included in a fair way, in a whole way, in a full way. And Democrats are showing the people of Puerto Rico that we are keeping our promises, and we are not going to abandon our fellow Americans during difficult times. This bill gives Puerto Ricans hope for the future, that we can do things and make their lives better. And now let me turn it to my partner, in this and so much that we do for Puerto Rico, the fighter, la luchadora para Puerto Rico, for Puerto Rico – Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.”
How The American Rescue Plan Will Deliver For Puerto Rico:
Disclaimer: Some figures are estimates
· Strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC):
o The American Rescue Plan Act importantly directs the federal government to strengthen Puerto Rico’s local EITC by providing three dollars for every dollar provided by the Puerto Rican government – effectively quadrupling the size of the program. The local EITC costs Puerto Rico around $200 million each year, so this bill would deliver an additional estimated $600 million annually to expand the size of Puerto Rico’s tax credit under the three-to-one federal match. This significant boost to Puerto Rico’s EITC will help put money directly into the pockets of struggling households in Puerto Rico, which is crucial for the nearly 43 percent of its population that is living in poverty.
· Expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC):
o The American Rescue Plan corrects a long-standing inequity in the federal Child Tax Credit by making the credit available to all Puerto Rican families – regardless of the number of children they have. The change will ensure that Puerto Rican families with less than three children can take advantage of this vital resource. This legislation also ensures that Puerto Rico will benefit from the temporary expansion of the CTC for 2021, which makes the credit fully refundable and increases the amount to $3,000 per child (or $3,600 for children under the age of 6).
· Public Transit: Public transportation agencies estimate they face more than tens of billions of additional costs and revenue losses related to the COVID-19 crisis. The American Rescue Plan Act provides $30.4 billion of additional relief funding to transit agencies to prevent layoffs of transit workers and prevent severe cuts to transit services that essential workers and the general public rely on. Most of the transit relief funding is provided as formula grants based on operating costs, the bipartisan formula established in preceding relief legislation. Funding is also included to ensure that ongoing transit construction projects do not experience costly delays or slowdowns.
o Urban Transit Funding: $118,041,898
§ Aguadilla-Isabela-San Sebastián, PR: $424,535
§ Arecibo, PR: $464,030
§ Fajardo, PR: $19,710,203
§ Florida-Imbéry-Barceloneta, PR: $181,594
§ Guayama, PR: $93,949
§ Juana Díaz, PR: $43,615
§ Mayaguez, PR: $962,804
§ Ponce, PR: $656,887
§ San Germán-Cabo Rojo-Sabana Grande, PR: $113,063
§ San Juan, PR: $95,156,466
§ Yauco, PR: $234,752
o Rural Transit Funding: $1,059,448
o Paratransit Funding: $904,066
§ Urbanized Areas 200k or more in Population:
· Aguadilla – Isabela – San Sebastian, PR: $68,773
· San Juan, PR: $444,021
§ Urbanized Areas 50k-199,999k in Population:
· Puerto Rico: $350,775
§ Non-urbanized Areas Less than 50k in Population:
· Puerto Rico: $40,497
· Airport Improvement Program: Airports have been especially hard hit by the pandemic, and without billions in additional aid will be forced to cut the jobs of thousands of employees, reduce or discontinue operations, and be unable to make payments on capital projects. The workforce retention requirements associated with federal relief protect workers at commercial airports across the United States. Airport relief is also designed to help airport concessionaires, many of which are disadvantage business owners.
o PR Total: $47,825,038
§ San Juan – Luis Munoz Marin International: $35,716,003
§ Aguadilla – Rafael Hernandez: $5,510,128
§ Ponce – Mercedita: $1,190,536
§ Isla De Vieques – Antonio Rivera Rodriguez: $1,214,087
§ Ceiba: Jose Aponte Del La Torre: $1,139,751
§ Isla De Culebra – Benjamin Rivera Noriega: $1,127,341
§ San Juan – Fernando Luis Ribas Dominici: $1,094,192
§ Mayaguez – Eugenio Maria De Hostos: $59,000
§ Arecido – Antonio/Nery/Juarbe Pol: $32,000
§ Humacao – Dr. Hermengildo Ortiz Quinones: $22,000
· Nutrition Assistance: The bill provides $1 billion for food assistance to Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa to ensure these citizens receive more support during this COVID crisis.
o PR will benefit from improvements to P-EBT made in the American Rescue Plan (The ARP extended P-EBT to cover any school year in which there is a public health emergency and to cover summer months. The bill explicitly mentions the inclusion of PR, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the P-EBT program)
· Enhanced Federal Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Democrats successfully fought to continue the enhanced federal unemployment insurance bump, which was set to expire March 14, 2021. This bill provides an additional $300 per week for all workers receiving unemployment benefits, through September 6, 2021. Under this legislation, Puerto Rico’s average weekly unemployment insurance benefit will continue to be increased from around $200 to $500 through this additional $300 per week supplement.
· Child Care: Democrats successfully secured $39 billion in relief funds for the child care sector, including $24 billion for child care stabilization grants, and nearly $15 billion for child care assistance through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The stabilization grants will provide significant support to the child care sector to ensure child care providers can continue to operate throughout the pandemic and the CCDBG grants will allow states to provide child care assistance to working families who are in great need of child care services. In addition, Head Start will receive $1 billion in emergency relief, which will be used to continue providing services to children and families.
o Child Care Funding: $308 million (CCDBG + Child Care Stabilization Grants)
o Head Start Funding: $36 million
· Disaster Relief Fund/Funeral Assistance: The bill will provide $50 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which assists states, Tribal Nations, and territories, as well as individuals and qualifying private nonprofits, as they respond to the over 29 million COVID-19 cases across the country that have led to over 525,000 deaths. This funding can pay for personal protective equipment; vaccine distribution; sanitization of schools, public transit, and courthouses; health care overtime costs; and other needs. This money can also be allocated to extending the hard fought funeral assistance program Democrats secured in the last COVID relief package that will reimburse those who have lost a loved one to COVID for many common funeral expenses.
o PR: $1,271,000,000 (estimate)
· State and Local: The American Rescue Plan includes significant support for state and local governments. Many states have sustained massive revenue shortfalls and face a host of increased spending needs.
o Total: $4.195 billion
o PR State Gov’t: $2.463 billion
o PR’s metro cities: $832 million
o PR smaller communities: $118 million
o PR Counties: $619 million
o Capital Project Broadband Assistance: $162 million
· Broadband (e-rate): At least 12 million K-12 public school students live in households without either an internet connection or a device adequate for distance learning at home. And, a disproportionate amount of the children that lack Internet connectivity come from communities of color, low-income households, Tribal lands, and rural areas. This bill will provide funding to the Federal Communications Commission to help schools and libraries ensure that our nation’s schoolchildren can fully participate in remote learning, even as schools look to reopen safely.
o PR: $65,801,871.26
· Emergency Rental Assistance: Following the first-of-its kind program establish in December, the American Rescue Plan provides funding for rental assistance to help millions of families stay in their homes, and protects Americans who cannot pay their rents or mortgages from a crushing debt burden when the crisis is over.
o PR Total: $240 million
· Homeowner Assistance: In an effort to help keep people in their homes, the American Rescue Plan includes $10 billion to targeted foreclosure prevention assistance to households and neighborhoods in states hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
o PR: $79 million
· PR K-12 Public Schools: ARP provides over $125 billion for public K-12 schools to safely reopen schools for in-person learning, address learning loss, and support students as they work to recover from the long-term impacts of the pandemic
o Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund: Nearly $3B
o Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools Program: $104 million
· Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund: ARP provides $39.6 billion to colleges and universities and their students. At least half of such funding must be spent on emergency financial aid grants to students to help them with college costs and basic needs like food, housing, and health care, with the other half available to institutions of higher education to defray lost revenue and increased costs from declining enrollment, the transition to online learning, closures of revenue-producing services and facilities, and COVID-19 testing, vaccination, PPE, and classroom retrofits.
PR: $747 million