Michigan Senators Support $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Bill

The massive COVID stimulus relief bill is headed back to the House after clearing the Senate.  The final vote was 50-49 along party lines.  House and Senate negotiators will have to work out differences in the two bills before a final measure is approved and sent to the President.  The nearly two-trillion dollar measure features direct checks of 14-hundred dollars to many Americans.

Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters both voted “yes”.

PETERS STATEMENT:

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today helped the Senate pass robust Coronavirus relief legislation that would provide critical aid to Michiganders. The American Rescue Plan includes funding to distribute direct stimulus checks, accelerate vaccine distribution, help schools reopen safely, extend unemployment benefits and support small businesses. Peters urged the House to swiftly approve the Senate-passed bill so it can be signed into law quickly by President Biden.

“The American Rescue Plan will make a difference for Michiganders by providing robust relief to get through this unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” said Senator Peters, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “With $1,400 stimulus checks and critical investments to help schools safely reopen and accelerate vaccine distribution, this relief will provide a massive shot in the arm of Michiganders and Americans across the country. We are seeing reasons for hope with the increase in vaccines, but we cannot let up. We must work to get this package signed into law quickly — this virus does not take a day off, and neither can we.”

STABENOW STATEMENT:

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced the U.S. Senate passed the American Rescue Plan Act to vaccinate more Americans, get checks and critical financial help to Michigan families, and help get our children safely back to school.

“Michigan families have been through so much this past year just trying to keep their families safe, educate their children at home and survive the financial challenges of this health pandemic. They need and deserve to know that their government has their back. The American Rescue Plan does just that. The Plan we just passed will get vaccines into people’s arms, provide direct financial help for people to survive the pandemic and help return students safely back to school and so much more,” said Senator Stabenow.

DETAILS OF LEGISLATION FROM STABENOW’S OFFICE:

VACCINES AND HEALTH CARE

Vaccines and Testing:

$20 billion for improving vaccine administration and distribution, $50 billion for testing, genomic sequencing of variants, and contact tracing efforts, as well as manufacturing and procurement of PPE, $10 billion for the Defense Production Act to procure essential PPE and other medical equipment, and $8 billion for public health workforce development.

Mental Health and Addiction Funding

$4 billion for behavioral health care services to help Michigan families deal with the mental health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Stabenow secured another $420 million to fund Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics across the country. Michigan currently has 24 clinics that have received $112 million in funding to support community behavioral health services.

The bill also contains millions in funding to support youth mental health and suicide prevention programs, as well as address the mental health effects of the pandemic on frontline health care workers.

Ensuring Health Coverage and Access to Care

The American Rescue Plan Act will lower or eliminate health insurance premiums for millions of Americans who buy insurance through the marketplaces through increased tax credits, reducing premiums by potentially thousands of dollars each year. The bill also subsidizes 100% of premiums for COBRA continuation coverage to help people who experienced job loss maintain their health coverage.

Finally, the American Rescue Plan Act also provides $8.5 billion in provider relief to help struggling rural health care providers and ensure access to care in rural areas.

Addressing Racial Disparities

$25.2 billion to promote health equity, including $7.6 billion for community health centers, $3.3 billion for the Indian Health Service; $1 billion for emergency assistance for children, families, and workers through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, as well as millions more to fight elder abuse, address COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes, and promote maternal and infant health.

Under the bill, states will have the option to provide Medicaid coverage for one year postpartum to address the maternal health crisis, which disproportionately affects communities of color. The bill also contains increased federal support through Medicaid for home- and community-based services.

FINANCIAL HELP FOR FAMILIES AND WORKERS

Unemployment Insurance

Extends all pandemic unemployment insurance programs including the supplemental $300 per week benefit until September 6, 2021. The bill also provides tax relief for unemployed Americans by excluding the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits from federal taxation.

Apply for unemployment benefits online at Michigan.gov/UIA or 1-866-500-0017.

Direct Support to Americans

A $1,400 cash payment along with an additional $1,400 per dependent, including adult dependents. Expands the Child Tax Credit to a fully refundable credit of $3,000 and to $3,600 for children under age of six, and increases the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to a fully refundable credit up to $4,000 for one child and $8,000 for two or more children. The bill also increases the Earned Income Tax Credit and extends its benefits to childless workers under the age of 25.

Support for Small Businesses

$15 billion in additional relief for the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance program, $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, expands PPP for non-profits, and establishes a Community Navigator program to improve access to COVID-19 relief for underserved communities.

The bill also establishes a $25 billion fund to help local restaurants keep their doors open and workers employed and an additional $1.25 billion for Shuttered Venue Operator Grants for live venues, theaters and cultural institutions.

$10 billion in new funding for the State Small Business Credit Initiative to help small businesses grow and create jobs as the economy recovers from the pandemic. Senator Stabenow previously introduced the Small Business Access to Capital Act with Senator Peters to reauthorize and fund the SSBCI program.

Housing and Rental Assistance

Contains more than $40 billion in funding to help ensure that families and individuals have a roof over their heads. This includes $21.6 billion in emergency rental assistance; $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers to help renters with the greatest needs secure housing; $9.9 billion to aid homeowners struggling to afford their mortgage payments, utility bills, and other housing costs; and $5 billion to secure safe, socially distant housing and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness.

For information on housing visit: https://www.michigan.gov/mshda/0,4641,7-141-7559_99282—,00.html

Investments in Agriculture and Rural America

The bill includes $4 billion for the food supply chain to respond to immediate COVID-19 needs and to build resiliency to withstand disruptions in the future. The bill would direct USDA to distribute food from farmers to those in need, invest in infrastructure for farmers, food banks, farmers markets, and food processors so they can respond to COVID-19, fund worker safety protections for workers in the food supply chain, and address animal health and small meat processing needs.

Food Assistance

The bill invests in nutrition programs to combat food insecurity, which is on the rise because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Stabenow continued to lead the effort to address rampant food insecurity by extending the %15 increase in SNAP benefits through September 2021, which will increase benefits for millions of Americans facing hunger.

The bill also invests in SNAP online so that families can buy their food safely, increases the WIC Cash Value Voucher to $35 so that moms and children can buy more fruits and vegetables, and invests in innovation and modernization in WIC. The bill will include $37 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to provide food for seniors.

The bill also extends the popular P-EBT program through the duration of the health emergency, including summers. This will provide additional nutrition benefits for families with children to help cover the cost of meals children would have otherwise received at school or in daycare.

Maintains State and Local Services

The bill will provide $325.5 billion for state and local governments to ensure communities have access to critical services. Tribal governments will receive $20 billion and territories will receive $4.5 billion in emergency funding to combat the COVID-19 crisis.

Pension Relief

The bill includes the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act, which will secure the retirement benefits of over one million workers and retirees in imperiled multiemployer pension plans for 30 years with no cuts to the earned benefits of participants and employees. It also stabilizes the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s multiemployer program for at least 20 years and provides necessary relief for single employer pension plans.

RESOURCES TO SAFELY RETURN STUDENTS BACK TO SCHOOL

Education

Includes $130 billion for K-12 schools and $40 billion for higher education institutions. Funding for K-12 schools will help them reopen safely for in-person learning and ensure schools have the resources necessary to adequately address learning loss.

Child Care

$24 billion to support the child care sector and $15 billion to provide child care assistance to families. The bill also provides $1 billion for Head Start.

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This story was prepared by the staff at EUP News or contributed from an outside source.

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