Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Ahead Of House Passage Laying Out How The American Rescue Plan Will Help Alleviate Child Poverty And Deliver For Historically Disadvantaged Farmers

March 10, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the American Rescue Plan that is set to be approved in the House of Representatives later today and then signed by President Biden—becoming the most sweeping federal recovery package in recent history. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Later today, the House of Representatives is set to approve the American Rescue Plan and send it straight to President Biden’s desk for his signature—capping a months-long effort by Democrats to pass bold, COVID-relief to defeat the pandemic and boost our economy. Once President Biden signs the bill into law, it will immediately become the most sweeping federal recovery package in recent history.

Even a cursory reading of the headlines gives you a sense for the historic nature of this bold and so-helpful legislation.

Here’s one from yesterday, from the New York Times: “Growth in the U.S. could surge on the stimulus plan and a rapid vaccine rollout.”

Wouldn’t that be great? And we think there is a very good chance of it happening.

Forbes: “U.S. Economy Will Recover Twice as Fast Thanks to $1.9 Trillion Stimulus”

That’s Forbes, a conservative publication.

And the Associated Press: “COVID bill to deliver big health insurance savings for many”

Something so many Americans desperately need and want.

And another from the Times: “In Stimulus Bill, a Policy Revolution in Aid for Children”

A policy revolution.

Simply put, the American Rescue plan is one of the most significant federal relief efforts that Congress has seen in a very, very long time. I am greatly looking forward to it becoming law.

Now, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about all the different provisions in the bill, today and in previous remarks on the floor of the Senate. That’s because the American Rescue Plan is a truly comprehensive effort. COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of American life, so we had to craft legislation that spanned the gamut: schools, businesses, families, jobs, health care. Because this bill is so wide-ranging, I haven’t spent enough time on the significance of individual programs.

I want to rectify that over the next several weeks. This morning, I want to focus on two initiatives. First, the child tax credit. And second, agricultural assistance for disadvantaged farmers.

According to the most recent data, more than 10 million children live below the poverty line in America—10 million children. A child starting out in life, through no fault of his or her own, lives below poverty. We know what that means in terms of food, and health care, and housing, and education. Compared with other nations around the world, the United States dedicates a relative pittance—a pittance—to fixing that terrible injustice.

Listen to this—this is something that should make us both ashamed, that the United States has been in this position for so long, and proud, that the American Rescue Plan will help rectify that injustice. Here it is: The United States ranks next to last among the world’s 37 most developed economies in terms of family benefits, barely ahead of Turkey. Barely ahead of Turkey, nothing that can make Americans proud.

Of course, the pandemic has made the problem of child poverty even worse. It has forced parents to serve as child care providers and surrogate teachers while trying to keep up with their own jobs.

For millions of Americans who lost their job through no fault of their own, the pressure only increased. The difficulty of child care during the pandemic is likely one of the main reasons why there has been a disproportionate share of women who have fallen out of the workforce.

The pandemic left mothers and fathers with impossible choices: between keeping their jobs and incomes or leaving work to care for the children stuck at home they so dearly love.

Democrats decided to tackle this problem head-on, head-on, in the American Rescue Plan. We expanded the Child Tax Credit to provide up to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 – and $3,600 per child under the age of 6 – for an overwhelming majority of families in this country.

Analysts predict that this policy will cut childhood poverty in half, in half. That’s an astounding statistic. It will cut childhood poverty in half, a goal of so many who study the frailties in some of our policies for a decade, for a generation to remove people, young children from poverty. And half, half will be so removed.

That’s just one reason why reviewers have called the American Rescue Plan one of the “most far-reaching anti-poverty efforts in a generation.”

One more thing I want to say on child poverty: a salute to Sens. Sherrod Brown, Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, who really charged, spearheaded this, along with Congressman Neal in the House, Sen. Ron Wyden and his committee, who worked on drafting it, and my staffers who spent so much time on making this work as well. A salute to them.

Now, another provision that has received too little attention is the support this bill will provide to disadvantaged farmers. Across nearly every statistic, farmers from socially disadvantaged communities fare worse than their white counterparts, suffering from generations of systematic discrimination, land loss, and what Agriculture Secretary Vilsack calls a “cycle of debt.” It’s almost something that recalls the days of slavery and sharecropping and tenant farming. Recently, these farmers have suffered again—disproportionately—from COVID-19.

The American Rescue Plan provides more than $10 billion to support our nation’s agriculture—and sets aside roughly half of it—half of it—for disadvantaged communities, particularly Black farmers, for debt relief, education, training, and land acquisition.

Though it is only a small fraction of the overall bill, experts have called the American Rescue Plan “the most significant legislation for Black farmers since the Civil Rights Act.”

Amazing what we can do when we put our minds to it. The hangover from the horrible treatment that rural African American farmers have gotten since the days of slavery can in part—in decent part—be undone by this legislation. And I want to thank some of my fellow Senators who did such work on this bill.

The provisions I’ve mentioned owe a great deal to the members of the Agriculture Committee and the Finance Committee. Senator Stabenow is relentless in pushing this issue. Senator Wyden and the Finance Committee helped out a great deal. And Senators Warnock and Booker pushed very hard as well.

The American Rescue plan is going to have an immense impact on nearly every community in America. In the weeks and months to come, I will be highlighting how much good it will do.

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