Whitehouse Votes to Send Wide-Ranging Relief to Families and Small Businesses, Hasten Return to Normal
American Rescue Plan invests in vaccine infrastructure, direct cash payments, expanded unemployment insurance, and funding for state and local governments
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today voted to pass the American Rescue Plan, which will inject $1.9 trillion into the national economy, provide direct relief to families and small businesses, build out a national vaccine distribution infrastructure, safely reopen schools and child care centers, and relieve the financial burden on state and local governments.
“Help is on the way to Rhode Island. The need right now is enormous, and the American Rescue Plan meets the moment. 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,” said Whitehouse. “Americans 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.”
The bill will provide significant relief for Rhode Islanders, including funding for:
• Vaccinations and public health: $160 billion for a national vaccination effort, as well as testing, tracing, and workforce development.
• 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.
• Reopening schools and child care: An estimated $437 million for K-12 and $180 million for higher education in Rhode Island. Nationally, the bill provides $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.
• Small businesses: Provides $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Rescue Plan will also provide $15 billion for 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. As of February, Rhode Island’s small businesses have seen revenues decrease by more than 47 percent compared to January 2020.
• Tax credits: Temporarily makes the Child Tax Credit (CTC) 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. Changes to the CTC are estimated to benefit 185,000 children in Rhode Island.
• 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.
• State and local aid: Rhode Island is estimated to receive $1.675 billion, including $1.133 billion for the state and $542 million for cities and towns. The American Rescue Plan was approved in a 50-49 vote. The Senate version of the bill will head to President Biden’s desk after it is approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.
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