U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) released the following statement after the House passed the historic American Rescue Plan. The legislation is now headed to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
“The American Rescue Plan will put more shots in arms and more money in the pockets of our neighbors and small business owners who need it at this precarious time in the public health and economic crisis. Americans need a bridge to survive the pandemic, and this historic emergency aid package will help families put food on the table, keep Floridians on the job, lift children out of poverty with an expanded Child Tax Credit, operate schools safely and make up for lost ground for our students.
“Our neighbors across Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County Schools will receive an enormous boost from the American Rescue Plan – larger than previous emergency aid provided by the CARES Act. Funds are estimated at $285 million for the county, $80 million for the City of Tampa and $500 million for Hillsborough County Public Schools. This substantial relief will provide rental assistance, keep the lights on in our critical public services, allocate grants to local businesses, and much more. I appreciate the close working relationship with local partners who have been good partners in keeping families afloat.
“Florida families will see $3,000 per child and $3,600 per child under six, with many families qualifying for monthly advance payments of the credit in the historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit. This is estimated to cut the child poverty rate in half, a transformational initiative to aid so many struggling families in the days ahead. There are over 3.8 million children in Florida who will benefit from this expansion.
“Importantly, the American Rescue Plan includes a 60-day deadline to for the State of Florida to send the $7 billion for Florida’s K-12 to local districts, including Hillsborough County Public Schools. It is disappointing that it was necessary to include this provision, but Governor DeSantis and the state have unnecessarily delayed disbursing federal emergency aid that was approved by Congress back in December to local school districts. The Congress passed this legislation because urgent assistance is needed to keep schools operating safely, address summer school and keep educators on the job through the public health emergency. This directive will ensure funds are disbursed with the speed this situation requires.
“Thanks to President Biden, vaccine distribution is ramping up dramatically, such as at the federally-run Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) vaccination sites in the Tampa area. The American Rescue Plan provides funds for more vaccination sites like the one at Tampa Greyhound Track in Sulphur Springs for a longer period of time with an eye to hard-hit communities of color and everyday Floridians, not the governor’s political donors, so that we can return to normal as soon as possible.
“In addition, Florida could benefit from a multi-billion dollar incentive provided to states that have not expanded Medicaid. It is fiscally irresponsible and morally wrong that the Governor and GOP-controlled Legislature leave so many Floridians without health coverage, especially during a pandemic. I urge policymakers in Tallahassee to bring our tax dollars back home to care for our neighbors and support our hospitals and health providers. More affordable coverage also will be available to more Florida families through new help under the Affordable Care Act.
“Local restaurants are critical to business and our way of life here in Tampa, and the American Rescue Plan includes $25 billion in assistance solely for restaurants. They’ve been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, and these flexible, equitably distributed grants will help them get back on their feet and put the disaster behind them. There’s also $92 million included for public transit in the Tampa area, funds we know will be put to good use by HART to keep frontline workers on the job and get other essential employees who rely on public transit where they need to go.
“We all love the Tampa International Airport and tourism is the lifeblood of our economy, so I’m thrilled that critical funds will help buoy airports, airlines, employees and concessionaires until travel returns to pre-pandemic levels. This $8 billion allotment for airports is set to keep the contractors and the employees going and to retain 90 percent of the workforce here at TPA through the end of the year.
“This package will go a long way to serving the needs of our neighbors, and getting back to normal as soon as possible. I look forward to President Biden signing it this week.”
The American Rescue Plan will support Tampa families and workers by:
PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR FL-14 FIRST RESPONDERS AND OTHER ESSENTIAL WORKERS
- Providing approximately $80 million to the City of Tampa and $285 million to Hillsborough County in New Coronavirus Relief Funds To Help Keep First Responders, Frontline Health Care Workers, and Other Essential Workers on the Job.
Direct Payments to Working Families & Expanding Child Tax Credit
INCREASING THE DIRECT PAYMENTS TO WORKING FAMILIES
- Providing Working Families an Additional Direct Payment of $1,400 Per Person – Bringing the Total Relief Payment to $2,000 Per Person
- Under the bill, single filers with incomes up to $75,000, head of household filers with incomes up to $112,500, and joint filers with incomes up to $150,000 will receive the full payment of $1,400.
EXPANDING CHILD TAX CREDIT, CUTTING CHILD POVERTY IN HALF
- Making the Child Tax Credit Fully Refundable and Increasing Its Size for 2021: The bill makes the child tax credit fully refundable for 2021 and increases the annual amount from the current $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6).
- Directing the Secretary of the Treasury to Issue Advance Payments of the Child Tax Credit: The bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury to issue advance, monthly payments of the child tax credit, based on the parents’ 2019 or 2020 tax returns. The advance payments would begin on July 1, 2021.
Aggressive Action to Speed Up COVID-19 Vaccinations and Contain the Virus
ESTABLISHING A NATIONAL COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM AND INCREASING VACCINATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
- Providing Over $20 Billion to Establish A National COVID-19 Vaccination Program and Improve the Administration and Distribution of Vaccinations, Including:
· Providing $7.5 billion for the CDC to prepare, promote, distribute, monitor, and track COVID-19 vaccines.
· Providing $7.5 billion for FEMA to establish vaccination sites across the country.
· Providing $600 million to be directed to the Indian Health Service for vaccine-related activities.
· Providing $5.2 billion to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support advanced research, development, manufacturing, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, and ancillary medical products for COVID-19.
· Providing $1 billion for the CDC to undertake a vaccine awareness and engagement campaign.
SCALING UP COVID-19 TESTING, CONTACT TRACING, AND MITIGATION, IN ORDER TO STOP THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS
- Providing $49 Billion to Expand Testing, Contact Tracing, and Mitigation and Related Activities, Including:
- Providing $47.8 billion for testing, contact tracing, and mitigation. These activities include implementing a national strategy for testing, contact tracing, surveillance, and mitigation; and the manufacturing, procurement, distribution, and administration of tests, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies necessary for administration of the tests.
- $10 billion to fund the Defense Production Act and close the gap in domestic manufacturing to fulfill U.S. public health needs.
- Providing $27 Billion for Addressing Health Disparities: The bill provides a total of $27 billion for addressing health disparities and protecting vulnerable populations, including:
· Providing $7.6 billion in funding to support COVID-19 response at Community Health Centers.
- Providing $4 Billion for Expanding Behavioral and Mental Health Services: The bill provides a total of $4 billion to expand behavioral and mental health services, including:
· Providing $3.5 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA) to be split between the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Community Mental Health block grant programs.
· Providing $280 million for programs that support mental and behavioral health and prevent burnout among health care providers and public safety officers.
Providing the Resources Needed to Help Schools Operate Safely
PROVIDING RESOURCES FOR OUR SCHOOLS
- Providing $500 million to Help Hillsborough County Public Schools:
- Repairing ventilation systems, reducing class sizes and implementing social distancing guidelines, purchasing personal protective equipment, and hiring support staff to care for students’ health and well-being.
- Ensures 20 percent of the funding that schools receive must be reserved to address and remediate learning loss among students.
- Requires states to disburse to local school districts not later than 60 days after the State receives such funds
- Includes $40 Billion to Support Colleges and Universities:
- Requires institutions to dedicate at least half of their funding for emergency financial aid grants to students to help prevent hunger, homelessness and other hardships facing students as a result of the pandemic.
- Broadband: Helping to Bridge the Digital Divide By Providing $7.6 Billion to Expand Internet Connectivity to Students and Communities
Immediate Economic Relief for Americans Hit Hardest
EXTENDING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
- Extending and Increasing the Federal Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (FPUC): The bill extends the federal supplemental unemployment benefit through September 6 at a monthly supplemental benefit of $300.
EXPANDING HEALTH COVERAGE AND LOWERING AMERICANS’ HEALTH CARE COSTS
- Expanding Subsidies in ACA Marketplaces: Removes the current cap that makes any family with income above 400% of the poverty level ineligible for any subsidies. Under the bill, no one will have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for a silver plan in the ACA marketplaces. It also provides that individuals below 150% of the poverty level pay no premiums at all compared to 4% of their income currently. The Urban Institute estimates that these provisions could lead to 4.5 million more Americans gaining coverage.
- ACA Subsidies for Those on Unemployment: The bill provides that any individual who receives unemployment at any point in 2021 is treated as if their income were 133% of the poverty level for the purposes of the ACA marketplace subsidy. As a result, they can purchase an ACA silver plan for zero premium.
- New Incentives for Medicaid Expansion in Florida: Temporarily increases the base Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) by five percentage points for two years for any state that newly expands. If all 12 remaining states expanded Medicaid, more than 2 million uninsured people would gain access to Medicaid.
- COBRA Subsidies: Provides an 85% subsidy for individuals who lose their job and choose to use COBRA to continue their existing employer-sponsored health coverage through September 30, 2021. Currently, those who would like to choose COBRA are required to pay the full cost of their coverage, including the employer contribution, making the cost prohibitive and preventing many from doing so.
- Provides $26 Billion for Emergency Rental Assistance, to Help Ensure Struggling Families Continue to Have a Safe Place to Live During This Pandemic.
- Estimated $1.14 Billion for Florida
- Provides $10 Billion for the Homeowner Assistance Fund to Help those Struggling to Afford Their Housing as a Result of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
- Supports Solutions for Americans Experiencing Homelessness: Provides $4.75 billion for state and local governments – through the HOME Investment Partnership program.
- Provides $5 Billion to Those Most in Need to Help Pay Their Utility Bills, Including by:
- Providing $4.5 billion to HHS for home energy assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
- Providing $500 million in additional funds for HHS for the Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Emergency Assistance Program established by Congress at the end of 2020. This brings the total amount of money available to assist families with their water and sewer bills to over $1.1 billion.
- Makes Key Investments in Food Security:
- Extends SNAP maximum benefits by 15 percent (through September 30, 2021);
- Provides $1.1 billion in additional SNAP administrative funds to states to help meet the demand of increased caseloads and $25 million to improve the state SNAP online pilots; and
- Allocates $800 million for WIC – supporting low-income women and infants – and temporarily boosts the value of WIC Cash Value Vouchers for vulnerable mothers and their children; and
- Secures $37 million to cover food shortfalls in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program which seeks to improve the health and nutrition of low-income Americans over 60 years old through access to nutritious food.
- Maintains and Expands the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) Program: The bill invests more than $5 billion in P-EBT so that low-income families have access to school meals and food assistance during both the school year and summer months.
- Expands Access to the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): The bill temporarily expands the age of eligibility for CACFP at emergency homeless shelters to ensure more young adults can access needed nutrition support.
ENSURING ACCESSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE AND EARLY LEARNING FOR FAMILIES
- Provides $39 billion through the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
- Improves the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for 2021:
- Increases the amount of child and dependent care expenses that are eligible for the credit to $8,000 for one qualifying individual and $16,000 for two or more qualifying individuals (such that the maximum credits would now be $4,000 and $8,000).
- Includes $1 billion for Head Start
- Estimated $47.83 Million for Florida
Support for Struggling Communities
SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS
- Increases Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Funding and Expands Eligibility to Ensure It Reaches Nonprofits of All Sizes and Types: The bill includes $7.25 billion in additional funding for PPP and expands eligibility of 501(c) nonprofits of all sizes and types, except for 501(c)4 lobbying organizations.
- Creates a $25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
- Supports Small Businesses By Providing $15 Billion for COVID-19 Emergency Grants Through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program.
- Establishes the Community Navigator pilot program: this program increases the awareness of and participation in COVID-19 relief programs for business owners currently lacking access, with priority for businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, women, and veterans
- $10 billion to the State Small Business Credit Initiative, supporting minority-owned businesses.
SUPPORTING AIRLINE INDUSTRY & WORKERS
- Provides Emergency Assistance to Airports and Helps Protect Aviation Industry Jobs: This bill includes:
- $8 billion to support airports across the country as well as airport concessions and their employees.
- $15 billion to extend the Payroll Support Program through September 30, 2021 stopping furloughs and layoffs for workers employed by airlines, cargo air carriers and contractors servicing air carriers at airports.