Help Is On The Way

The American Rescue Plan Signed Into Law

When President Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) this week, it was a bold and historic response to a devastating pandemic that – for more than a year – has upended the lives of people in Minnesota and across the country.  The pandemic has taken more than 500,000 lives, strained our public health system, closed schools, and stolen millions of businesses and jobs. 

I strongly supported the American Rescue Plan after hearing from thousands of Minnesotans throughout this past year about the devastating toll the virus has had on their lives.  This new law will arm the nation with important tools to fight the deadly pandemic and deliver badly-needed resources to help restore the nation’s health and economic well-being.  It not only delivers much-needed support for coronavirus testing and vaccines, as well as help for front line health care workers, but also provides assistance for hard-hit families, businesses, farmers, veterans, and Tribal communities.  It will help reopen our schools safely, provide direct support and tax relief to struggling families, and give our states and communities needed resources to build resilience and build back better.

With a growing number of people in Minnesota and across the country getting vaccinated every day, I’m optimistic that this package represents a turning point in our year-long fight to crush the virus and to get Americans back on their feet.

Direct Help for Struggling Families

The ARP will bring immediate relief to families who have lost jobs, struggled to keep food on their table, and worried about being able to afford their housing. 

It provides $1,400 in direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 and to couples making up to $150,000 annually.  Those payments are expected to begin reaching millions of people in Minnesota and across the country in the coming days.  Because of a provision I championed with Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), this new round of stimulus checks will include dependents who were left out of earlier rounds of relief, including children age 17 and age 18, college students below age 24, and disabled adults and qualified relatives.

For Minnesota families who have lost jobs, the ARP extends into September the $300-per-week addition to unemployment assistance, which had previously been scheduled to expire next week. The plan also helps families by expanding the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Dependent Care Tax Credit.  Significantly, the Child Tax Credit expansion will help a total of 1.12 million Minnesota children, including 44,000 who will be lifted out of poverty, providing payments to families with children cutting the child poverty rate in half

Bolstering Vaccines and Testing Efforts

With millions of people already vaccinated, and new vaccines being authorized and coming on line, President Biden announced this week that he will direct states, including Minnesota, to make every adult eligible for a vaccine by May 1, much earlier than expected. 

The ARP includes $7.5 billion to get vaccines distributed to every state.  It also includes $1 billion to promote confidence in the authorized vaccines, so that Americans see the benefits of getting vaccinated.  As Congress debated the ARP – and earlier relief packages enacted in 2020 – I pushed hard to include a provision to makes all vaccines free of charge for everyone, regardless of insurance status.  This ensures that cost is never a barrier to getting an approved vaccine.  Just as important, I’ll also continue to push for more equitable distribution of vaccines so that communities of color – who have been hardest hit by the virus – have access to them.

Throughout 2020, one of my biggest frustrations was the lack of a national testing strategy.  Until all Americans are vaccinated, testing will continue to be an important tool in battling the coronavirus, as we open schools and monitor new highly-contagious variants of the virus.  Importantly, the ARP includes $47.8 billion for testing and is the first coronavirus relief package that incorporates my push for a national strategy on testing.  Last year, my provision to make testing free of charge removed cost barriers for all Americans, and that continues with this new relief package.

Getting Schools Reopened Safely

This past year, I heard from parents, students, teachers and administrators about how the virus has upended their lives and about the need to get schools safely reopened.  The ARP includes $125 billion for public K-12 schools across the country to tackle the many difficult tasks needed to get students back in the classroom.  Minnesota schools are estimated to receive $1.3 billion of that allocation to get the job done.

The funds will go for in-person learning, to addressing learning loss due to the pandemic, and to support students as they work to recover from the long-term impacts of the past year.  Beyond that, Minnesota schools will receive about $53 million to bolster special education efforts.

Stabilizing Childcare for Families, Businesses and Communities

Even before the pandemic hit, as I traveled across Minnesota, I saw how the lack of affordable, quality childcare in our state was hurting families, businesses and communities.  In the past year, the pandemic pushed childcare to the brink of collapse, with many providers forced to close, and others barely holding on.  In response, I joined with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) early last year to outline a plan for $50 billion in relief to help providers and families get through the crisis.   We successfully secured more than $40 billion in for childcare and early learning resources in the ARP.  Combined with the $13.5 billion in earlier coronavirus relief packages, we’ve made good on that plan.

The ARP will send $528 million in urgently-needed funding to Minnesota to stabilize childcare in our state, and another $11 million to bolster Head Start efforts.  These investments will help prevent further closures, ensure child care workers—the majority of whom are women—don’t continue to lose their jobs, and they’ll help ensure working families have access to quality, affordable child care as many return to work.

Helping Minnesota’s State, Local Governments Get Through Pandemic

The pandemic has also taken a heavy toll on Minnesota’s state and local governments, that have had to drastically cut services, reduce public safety efforts, delay needed infrastructure projects, including broadband, water and sewer upgrades.

The ARP will help by delivering an estimated $4.9 billion to Minnesota governments, including approximately $2.6 billion to the state, and more than $2 billion to our counties, cities and other local governments.  In addition, the American Rescue Plan includes provisions I authored to make state and local governments eligible for a tax credit to provide paid leave to police, firefighters, health care workers, and other government employees who have been fighting on the front lines of the pandemic. 

Help for Minnesota’s Veterans, Agriculture, Tribal Communities

I also supported funding in the ARP for Veterans, Agriculture and Tribal Communities.

The plan includes more than $31 billion I pushed for to help devastated Tribal governments and urban Indigenous communities in Minnesota and across the country address the health and economic fallout from the pandemic. This funding represents the largest single infusion of resources for Indigenous communities in U.S. history.

The plan includes more than $14 billion for Veterans health care, job assistance, State Veterans Homes, and efforts to cut the Veterans Administration claims backlog caused by the pandemic. And it helps agriculture with $4 billion for the nation’s farmers, food processors, and farmers markets to fix pandemic related disruptions in the food supply chain, monitor COVID-19 in animals, protect farm workers and increase food donations.

After more than year battling the coronavirus, job one is getting our country back on its feet.  The ARP will not only give us the tools to fight the pandemic, but also deliver needed resources to help Minnesota and the nation build resilience and build back better.