The House on Wednesday gave final approval to HR 1319, the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.” Final passage came on a mostly party-line vote of 220-211. No Republicans supported the bill and one Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine, opposed the bill. President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law as soon as the enrolled version of the bill arrives in the Oval Office.
The $1.9 trillion, 628-page bill includes hundreds of provisions, including substantial funding for public health resources to battle the coronavirus, speed up the distribution of vaccines, and provide aid to impacted Americans. The measure extends unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, including the $300 weekly Federal add-on, provides $1,400 checks to 85 percent of US households, significantly expands the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit (EITC), and provides additional food aid as well as $42.5 billion in housing aid to low-income and unemployed families and individuals. The bill also provides $362 billion in direct aid to states and local governments along with $123 billion for K-12 schools, $39 billion for childcare, and $30.5 billion for transit systems. It also provides $53.6 billion in aid to businesses, including almost $29 billion specifically for restaurants.
Among the many public health and higher education provisions in the bill:
- $7.7 billion for HHS to establish, expand and sustain a public health workforce to help respond to the current pandemic.
- $39.6 billion for colleges and college students as part of a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Institutions receiving aid must dedicate at least half of the funding for emergency financial aid grants to prevent hunger, homelessness, and other hardships that students are facing because of the pandemic. Funds can also be used for general expenditures for institutions of higher education to cover those expenses associated with a disruption in services or operations related to coronavirus, including defraying expenses caused by lost revenue and reimbursing expenses already incurred.
- $7.5 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prepare, promote, administer, monitor and track coronavirus vaccines.
- $1 billion for the CDC to strengthen vaccine confidence and provide education regarding vaccines to improve vaccination rates.
- $7.6 billion for vaccination, testing and associated activities at Community Health Centers.
- $47.8 billion for HHS activities to detect, diagnose, trace, and monitor COVID-19 infections (and requires HHS to implement a national strategy for testing, contact tracing, surveillance, and mitigation of COVID-19).
- $6.1 billion to support advanced research, development, manufacturing, production and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, and ancillary medical products.
- $10 billion is provided to support the production, purchase, and distribution of critical materials and equipment under the Defense Production Act.
- $50 billion to FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, with much of the funding to be used to reimburse state and local governments for COVID-19 related expenses such as vaccination efforts, the continued deployment of the National Guard, providing personal protective equipment for critical public sector employees, and disinfecting public facilities.
- $3.0 billion for HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Community Mental Health block grant programs. It also provides funding for three separate efforts to help health care professionals and first responders.
- The bill expands access to health care by providing tax subsidies to a wider range of individuals and families who purchase health insurance on the markets established under the Affordable Care Act; temporarily covers the entire cost of COBRA premiums for individuals who lose their jobs; and incentivizes additional states to expand Medicaid as allowed under the ACA.
- $122.8 billion to support state and local funding for K-12 schools and public postsecondary institutions (with funding to be used for repairing and enhancing school ventilation systems, reducing class sizes and implementing social distancing guidelines).
- $800 million for the National Health Service Corps — with $100 million reserved for state student loan repayment programs.
- $6.1 billion for tribal health programs — including $600 million for vaccine-related activities; $1.5 billion for testing, tracing, and mitigating COVID-19; $420 million for mental and behavioral health prevention and treatment services; $600 million to lease, construct or equip health facilities to respond to COVID-19; and $10 million for potable water delivery.
Tags: Publish on March 12