Hastening the return to normal

Help is on the way to Rhode Island. I was proud to cast my vote in favor of the American Rescue Plan. The need right now is enormous, and the American Rescue Plan meets the moment.

The bill will inject $1.9 trillion into the national economy. From vaccines to schools to direct cash assistance for families and unemployed Rhode Islanders, this bill makes major investments aimed at getting the pandemic well under control before summer. Here’s some of what the funding will go toward:

  • Vaccinations and public health: $160 billion for a national vaccination effort, as well as testing, tracing, and workforce development. I also helped secure a fix to the federal funding formula for hospitals that is estimated to bring about $28 million into Rhode Island.
  • Direct payments: Another round of direct payments worth $1,400 per adult and $1,400 per dependent, including child and non-child dependents. Direct payments phase out for individuals making between $75,000 and $80,000 per year and for couples making between $150,000 and $160,000 per year.
  • State and local aid: Rhode Island is estimated to receive over $1.2 billion for the state and over $850 million for cities and towns, including funding to support K-12 education.
  • Child care: Funding to ease the burden on working parents, including $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, $24 billion for a child care stabilization grant program, and $1 billion for Head Start. Rhode Island is estimated to receive $93 million, including $36 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and $57 million for Child Care Stabilization Grants. Rhode Island is also estimated to receive $3 million for Head Start.
  • Small businesses: Provides $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to keep Main Street business open, in addition to $15 billion for the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Program, $25 billion for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and $1.25 billion for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program.
  • Tax credits: Temporarily makes the Child Tax Credit refundable, increases the credit amount to $3,000 ($3,600 for children under six), and establishes a program for an advanced payment of the CTC. The bill also strengthens the Earned Income Tax Credit by nearly tripling the credit for some workers, and extending its benefits to workers under 25 without children. The bill makes the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit temporarily refundable and allows the credit to cover half of care costs up to $4,000 for one child and up to $8,000 for two or more children.
  • Unemployment: Extends emergency unemployment benefits, including the weekly supplement of $300, to September 6, 2021.
  • Housing: $40 billion in rental, homeowner, and homelessness assistance. As of February, 58,000 households in Rhode Island were behind on rent. Rhode Island is estimated to receive $152 million for rental assistance.
  • Mental health and substance use treatment: My office estimates that Rhode Island will receive $3-4 million in SAMHSA Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grants to help curb the opioid crisis that has taken so many lives during what has been an isolating, stressful time for many. Local organizations will also be able to apply for grants from other programs for substance use treatment and behavioral health.

Rhode Islanders have endured so much loss over the past year. With President Biden in the White House and Democrats holding majorities in Congress, the federal government is finally throwing its full might into getting life back to normal and lifting up working families.