The dual public health and economic crises continue to test families across the country, but help is here. Last Thursday 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, began sending $1,400 payments to millions just 24 hours after its passage, and will continue to speed up vaccination efforts now that 100 million shots have been administered.
Here’s what this means for Pennsylvania:
- VACCINES: As of Sunday 4.3 million doses had been administered in the state, 500,000 of which were administered since the bill was signed on March 12th.
- DIRECT PAYMENTS: In Pennsylvania more than 8.1 million adults (86 percent of all Pennsylvania adults) and 2.8 million children (84 percent of all Pennsylvania children) will receive direct payments worth up to $1,400. This relief will be a lifeline for the state’s 2.75 million people who reported difficulty in covering normal household expenses.
- CHILD TAX CREDIT: On top of the direct payments, 2,368,000 Pennsylvania children will benefit from up to $1,600 each worth of additional relief starting in July lifting 140,000 Pennsylvania children 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 340,000 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 489,000 Pennsylvania renters (20 percent of all the state’s renters) who are behind on payments.
- SAFELY REOPENING SCHOOLS: $5.1 billion for Pennsylvania K-12 schools.
- LAYOFFS & SERVICE CUTS PREVENTION: Cities, counties, and the state itself will receive $12.1 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 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 (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.