The dual public health and economic crises continue to test families across the country, but help is here. On March 11th, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, the most consequential legislation for low and middle income Americans in modern history. It saved at least 27,000 jobs in the moments after it was signed, and direct payments worth up to $1,400 were sent to more than 127 million Americans in less than three weeks after passage, with another 30 million expected by April 7th. It will continue to speed up vaccination efforts with more than 100 million shots already administered, and a new higher goal of 200 million shots in Biden’s first 100 days.
Here’s what this means for Pennsylvania ahead of President Biden’s visit to Pittsburgh:
- VACCINES: As of today, 5.9 million doses had been administered in the state, 2.2 million of which were administered since the bill was signed on March 11th.
- DIRECT PAYMENTS: In Pennsylvania, 5.8 million households will receive direct payments worth up to $1,400 per person. This relief will be a lifeline for the state’s 2.8 million people who reported difficulty in covering normal household expenses.
- CHILD TAX CREDIT: On top of the direct payments, more than 2.3 million Pennsylvania children will receive additional relief starting in July of up to $1,600 each helping 140,000 Pennsylvania children move out of poverty.
- EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT: An additional $1,000 will be available to 697,000 Pennsylvania workers with no children including many essential workers.
- UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Over 435,900 fewer Pennsylvanians are employed since the pandemic began in February 2020. The passage of the American Rescue Plan will provide many of these workers with extended unemployment benefits worth $300 per week through the summer.
- RENTAL RELIEF: $671 million is now available to help the 498,000 Pennsylvania renters (20 percent of all the state’s renters) who are behind on payments.
- SAFELY REOPENING SCHOOLS: $4.9 billion for Pennsylvania K-12 schools.
- LAYOFFS & SERVICE CUTS PREVENTION: Cities, counties, and the state will receive $13.7 billion to help prevent service cuts and layoffs.
- MORE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE: A Pennsylvania family of four with an income of 4 times the federal poverty level (about $51,000 for a single person and $105,000 for a family of four) that purchases their health insurance on an ACA marketplace would see their monthly premiums drop by $605.
Despite broad support from Republicans, Independents, and Democrats across the country (7 in 10 overall are in favor), not one Republican in Congress voted for the American Rescue Plan with many citing the bill’s cost. Ironically, most of these same Republicans voted for Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which had roughly the same price tag and was primarily targeted at corporations and the wealthy, during sound economic times. Even with this opposition, President Biden delivered.