Washington, D.C. — Today, the American Rescue Plan Act received a final approval from the U.S. House of Representatives and will now go to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. Following the vote in the House, Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:
After a year of incompetent leadership on the COVID-19 crisis from the previous administration, President Biden and congressional Democrats met the historic challenge facing the country. They led by heeding the united voices of the American people and overcame total resistance from the Republicans in Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan—one of the most impactful pieces of legislation in decades. The American Rescue Plan will not only help get the virus under control, safely reopen schools, and jump-start the still-sputtering economy, but also transform millions of American lives.
The American Rescue Plan is transformative because it rejects the long-discredited doctrine of trickle-down economics by directing aid to the working- and middle-class Americans who not only need it the most, but whose spending will boost the broader economy. Historically, the American Rescue Plan will also reduce overall poverty by nearly one-third and cut child poverty nearly in half, largely due to a major expansion of the child tax credit (CTC), which builds on a proposal first made by CAP in 2015.
While delivering resources for vaccines, testing, and public health—and providing direct relief to families in the form of checks, tax credits, aid to small businesses, and an extension of unemployment insurance benefits—the American Rescue Plan includes a number of less-talked-about provisions that will address many of the economic and societal deficiencies that the pandemic has laid bare. During what economists have dubbed the first “she-cession,” the bill makes the largest investment in the U.S. child care industry since World War II. Importantly, the bill also invests in home and community based care services, allowing seniors and people with disabilities to stay out of congregate care facilities—where the virus has spread most rampantly—and in their homes instead. And after a year in which historic numbers of Americans had to rely on food banks to feed their families, the American Rescue Plan makes crucial investments in vital nutrition services. It will also provide eviction protections and rental assistance to people who are at risk of losing their homes, forestalling a public health and humanitarian crisis. Following a crisis that caused historic numbers of people to both lose health coverage and face serious illness, the American Rescue Plan will also strengthen the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid to make coverage more affordable for more than 10 million Americans and to reduce the number of uninsured.
While it’s difficult to overstate the significance of the American Rescue Plan, its passage does not mean that the COVID-19 crisis is past or Congress and the Biden administration’s work is done. Important provisions of the bill, including the CTC expansion, should be made permanent. Congress should also build on this legislation by making structural changes to protect working families, such as guaranteeing access to permanent paid leave and increasing the minimum wage. Also, for true economic recovery, Congress will need to enact at least one other significant stimulus bill later this year. But the need for more relief does not take away from the historic importance of the American Rescue Plan. Its passage marks a vital step toward not only ending the crisis but also rebuilding a stronger, more equitable America.