U.S. Senator Tina Smith: Senate-Passed COVID-19 Relief Plan to Give Nation Tools to Respond to Health, Economic Crises

WASHINGTON, D.C. [3/6/21]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed by the Senate today will arm the nation with the tools to fight the deadly pandemic and the resources needed to help restore the health and economic well-being of struggling families, businesses, schools and communities in Minnesota and across the country.

Sen. Smith, who strongly backed passage of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), said it is a bold and necessary response to a pandemic that for more than a year has upended the lives of people in Minnesota and across the country by taking more than 500,000 lives, straining the public health system, closing schools, and stealing millions of businesses and jobs across the country.

“Getting the country back on its feet is job one. The rescue package the Senate passed today will not only give us the tools to fight the pandemic with much-needed support for coronavirus testing, vaccines, as well as help for front line health care workers, but also provide assistance for hard-hit families, businesses, farmers, veterans, and Tribal communities.” said Sen. Smith. “The plan will help reopen our schools safely, provide direct support and tax relief to families, and give our states and communities needed resources to build resilience and build back better.”

Sen. Smith Lauds Passage of Key Provisions She Authored, Championed

The ARP includes many key provisions authored or championed by Sen. Smith, including:

$56 billion to support the nation’s vaccine and testing efforts that are necessary to battle the virus. Sen. Smith successfully included the provision in the package that ensures that vaccines are free of charge. The bill also incorporates her push to implement a national testing strategy for the first time since pandemic began.

$40 billion to help stabilize childcare and early learning. This funding, in addition to the $13.5 billion included in prior coronavirus packages, delivers on Sen. Smith’s push for more than $50 billion for this essential sector. This funding will help in-home childcare providers, childcare centers and Head Start programs in Minnesota and across the country to ensure families returning to work have needed childcare.

More than $31 billion to help devastated Tribal governments and Native communities in Minnesota and across the country address the health and economic fallout from the pandemic. She said the funding represents the largest single infusion of resources for Tribal Nations in U.S. history.

More than $40 billion in housing assistance to help renters, homeowners, and people experiencing homelessness maintain or find stable housing.

A provision Sen. Smith championed with Representative Angie Craig to expand new round of stimulus checks to 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.

It also includes provisions to shore up the multiemployer pension system and ensure workers receive the full pensions they earned. The provision stems from Sen. Smith’s years-long push to resolve for the nation’s looming multiemployer pension crisis, which threatened to drastically cut hard-earned pensions for millions of Americans, including more than 22,000 Minnesotans.

The ARP also includes many other important provisions supported by Sen. Smith including help for hard hit families, schools, state and local governments, veterans and famers. It includes $1,400 direct payments to hundreds of millions of eligible people in Minnesota and across the country, extends emergency unemployment assistance that was scheduled to run out March 14, helps families by expanding the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Child Dependent Care Tax Credit, and it provides $125 billion to reopen schools safely. The Child Tax Credit increase is projected to cut the national child poverty rate in half.

Beyond that, Sen. Smith supported the more than $14 billion that will be invested in Veterans, health care, job assistance, State Veterans Homes, and efforts to cut the Veterans Administration claims backlog caused by the pandemic. And she backed and $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 Senate passage Saturday, the rescue plan will be sent to the House, before it goes to President Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.