Senate passes $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, with $1,400 stimulus checks

Staff Reports Posted 6 March 2021 at 1:26 pm

$300 billion approved for state and local government

The U.S. Senate today, in a 50-49 vote, passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill.

The bill includes $1,400 checks for Americans with household incomes less than $150,000 or individuals earning less than $75,000 a year.

The legislation goes before the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote next week.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, issued this press release after the Senate voted in favor of the package, without any Republican support:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Aided by aggressive action by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the Senate today passed the American Rescue Plan to support American families and small businesses, and deliver critical resources for public health, health care, economic recovery and essential services.

Gillibrand successfully negotiated the inclusion of several provisions in the relief package—she authored legislation to create a Health Force to aide vaccine distribution and deliver funding for cash-strapped state and local governments, and pushed for the inclusion of legislation that will strengthen small businesses, reopen schools, renew emergency paid leave provisions, and help families weather the ongoing economic crisis.

“The American Rescue Plan delivers comprehensive and robust relief to New York families. I’m proud it will provide more resources to New York’s health care system, workers, small businesses and families facing financial strain due to the public health and economic crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m particularly proud that this bill includes a nearly $8 billion down payment for Health Force, my legislation to create a robust public health workforce to strengthen vaccination efforts.

“My colleagues and I fought hard to support our front line workers, strengthen vaccine rollout, help our schools safely reopen, bolster small businesses, and provide relief to the millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet. While there’s more work to be done to help America fully recover, this bill is a huge step to further address this crisis and I will continue working with my colleagues to help rebuild our economy.”

Senator Gillibrand fought for the following priorities for New Yorkers in the American Rescue Plan:

  • $7.66 billion for a new public health workforce based on her landmark “Health Force” legislation to expand the nation’s public health jobs and infrastructure and aid the country’s vaccine distribution campaign. Grants will be awarded to state, local, and territorial health departments in order to recruit, hire, and train individuals to prevent and respond to future public health emergencies, and respond to ongoing and future public health and health care needs. Senator Gillibrand authored the Health Force, Resilience Force, And Jobs To Fight COVID-19 Act, re-introduced it this year and has championed the proposal throughout the pandemic.
  • Expansion of federal emergency paid leave and paid leave tax credits. The American Rescue Plan provides $570 million in additional funding to support an additional 15 weeks of paid leave at $1,400 per week to all federal workers, including USPS employees, for COVID-19 related reasons for themselves and their families through September 2021. This includes vaccine appointments and complications, and school closures due to the pandemic. The bill also provides tax credits to employers that voluntarily offer two weeks of paid sick leave for COVID-19 illnesses and 10 weeks of paid family leave for pandemic related reasons through October 1. As Senate lead on the FAMILY Act, Senator Gillibrand has fought fiercely to enact emergency paid sick and family leave provisions that have prevented workers from having to choose between their paycheck or their health when they needed to stay home to care for themselves or a loved one during the pandemic.
  • More than $300 billion for state and local governments. Senator Gillibrand, alongside Majority Leader Schumer, has fought for months to deliver vital funding to New York’s state and local governments, which have had revenues slashed due to the pandemic. The funding will be used to pay for essential services, retain vital frontline workers, and offset lost revenues and increased costs from the COVID-19 emergency. Gillibrand and Schumer authored the Direct Support for Communities Act.
  • Extension of emergency SNAP increase and P-EBT benefits and $1 billion in nutrition assistance to Puerto Rico and territories. To address the hunger crisis caused by the pandemic, Gillibrand pushed the Senate to provide temporary increase in maximum SNAP benefits by 15% and extend the benefits through September, and extend the P-EBT program through the summer and expand eligibility. Gillibrand also pushed for and secured $1.135 billion in funding for state administration expenses associated with SNAP. Additionally, Gillibrand led Senate colleagues in a push to provide expeditious and fair implementation of the P-EBT Program in Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories.
  • Emergency increase in Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Cash Value Vouchers up to $35 per month for women and children. Senator Gillibrand successfully fought for the inclusion of a vital CVV increase to support women and children for a four-month period during the pandemic.
  • More than $1.4 billion in funding to strengthen Older Americans Act (OAA) programs, including $775 million in funding for the OAA Nutrition Services and $460 million to support providers’ efforts to vaccinate older adults in the next coronavirus relief package. Senator Gillibrand led Senate colleagues’ request for $1.4 billion in funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs, including $750 million in funding for the OAA Nutrition Services and $480 million to support providers’ efforts to vaccinate older adults in the next coronavirus relief package. She also cosponsored the Continued Funding for Senior Services During COVID-19 Act, to deliver more than $1 billion to the aging network to continue providing essential services, such as meal delivery, vaccine outreach and programming and caregiver support.
  • $170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education to help implement CDC guidelines, repair and upgrade ventilation, hire more staff, purchase PPE, and cover budget holes for higher education. Senator Gillibrand cosponsored the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2021 to invest more than $100 billion in grant funding to schools with facilities that pose health and safety risks to students and staff, allocate funding for updates to combat the spread of COVID-19, and expand access to reliable, high-speed broadband to continue digital learning.
  • Support for small businesses including an additional $7 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $25 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and $1.25 billion for shuttered venue operators grant program. Throughout the last year, Senator Gillibrand has fought to support hard-hit small businesses, restaurants, and the hospitality industry across New York. Gillibrand successfully pushed for the inclusion of the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2020 to create the Revitalization Fund.
  • $40 billion in federal funding to stabilize child care providers as they work to safely reopen, including $25 billion to create an emergency stabilization fund for child care providers, $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, and $1 billion for Head Start funding. With nearly half of all child care providers closed due the pandemic, Gillibrand has stood with local leaders in Upstate New York to call for the inclusion of a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund.
  • $3.5 billion for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Community Mental Health Block Grants. Senator Gillibrand fought to deliver resources for New York’s growing substance use epidemic throughout the COVID-19 crisis. She repeatedly pushed leadership to include robust funding for substance use disorder and mental health care services as Congress negotiated the last relief package, including a bicameral in support of $10 billion in funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Senator Gillibrand introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Family Support Services Act to create a $25 million grant program over five years to help nonprofits and community organizations provide support services to families with loved ones seeking addiction treatment.
  • $7.6 billion for Community Health Centers (CHCs), including federally qualified health center look-alikes and Native Hawaiian Health Centers. Throughout the pandemic, these health centers have provided their communities with testing, tracing, vaccine preparedness, and other health services with limited resources. Earlier this year, Senator Gillibrand called for $13.5 billion in federal funding to help CHCS prepare for and respond to public health crises.
  • $4.5 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Senator Gillibrand has repeatedly pushed for resources to ensure New Yorkers can afford their utilities and urged Senate leadership to maintain House negotiated funding for LIHEAP. When millions of workers were laid off at the beginning of the pandemic, Senator Gillibrand fought alongside her colleagues to deliver $900 million in LIHEAP funding in the CARES Act. Gillibrand also successfully pushed the Trump administration to immediately release the emergency funding and send a vital lifeline to New Yorkers.
  • $49.5 million for the Family Violence Prevention Services Act programs to support domestic violence shelters and services for families and $250 million for child abuse prevention. In a bipartisan push, Senator Gillibrand urged Congressional leadership to provide support for domestic violence providers and organizations. Senator Gillibrand previously secured $45 million in funding in the CARES Act.
  • Extension of enhanced unemployment benefits. States across the country continue to report record high unemployment rates. As enhanced unemployment benefits were set to expire at the end of last year, Gillibrand called on Senate leadership to extend critical Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs.
  • $30 billion in federal transit funding. Due to the sharp decrease in ridership and the economic shutdown, public transportation is in desperate need of relief to address devastating revenue losses. With public transportation services facing massive budget shortfalls, Gillibrand advocated for robust transit funding and sent a letter to Senate leadership to push for its inclusion in subsequent relief packages.
  • $45 billion for Homelessness and Affordable Housing Assistance, including $20.25 billion for Emergency Rental Assistance, $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers, $100 million for housing counseling, $100 million for rural housing emergency assistance, $9.961 billion for the Homeowner Assistance Fund, and $4.75 billion for Homelessness Assistance. Senator Gillibrand has fought for funding to support housing assistance for New Yorkers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She co-sponsored the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020 to help families and individuals pay their rent and back rent and the  Public Health Emergency Shelter Act to respond to the needs of families and individuals experiencing homelessness during this crisis.