President-Elect Biden Rolls Out Economic Relief Plan, Includes Significant Investments for COVID-19 Response

President-Elect Joe Biden released an ambitious $1.9 trillion economic relief plan yesterday, entitled the “American Rescue Plan.” Congressional Republicans have already started to express opposition to the plan with some Democrats criticizing the plan for not providing more relief for hard-hit Americans. Given the slim margins in both houses, the fate of the package remains uncertain at this time.

Specifically, the plan targets three areas: a national vaccination plan and supports to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, immediate financial relief for working families, and support to small businesses and communities hard hit by the pandemic.

In terms of specific COVID-19 proposals, the American Rescue Plan includes:

  • $20 billion for a national vaccination program in partnership with states, localities, Tribes, and territories. This program will include creating community vaccination centers and deploying mobile vaccination units for hard-to-reach areas.
  • $50 billion to expand testing, provide funding to purchase rapid tests, expand lab capacity, and support schools and local governments to implement regular testing protocols.
  • Create a public health jobs program to support pandemic response with the intent to hire 100,000 individuals to work in local communities on vaccine outreach and contact tracing in the short term and then to later build long-term public health capacity.
  • Address disparities by ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines and supplies, provide funding for health services for underserved communities, and invest in health services on tribal lands.
  • Provide funding for states to deploy strike teams to long-term care facilities that experience COVID-19 outbreaks and conduct better infection control oversight.
  • Provide funding for COVID-19 safety in federal, state, and local prisons, jails, and detention centers including mitigation strategies, safe reentry, and vaccinations of both those incarcerated and staff.
  • Funding to increase the United States analytics capacity on disease sequencing, surveillance, and outbreaks.
  • $30 billion invested into the Disaster Relief Fund to ensure sufficient supplies and protective gear and provide 100% federal reimbursement for critical emergency response resources to states, local governments, and Tribes, including deployment of the National Guard.
  • $10 billion investment in expanding domestic manufacturing for pandemic supplies.
  • Finally, additional investments in COVID-19 treatments, protections for workers, and funding and support for international health and humanitarian response to the pandemic.

President-Elect Biden’s plan also provides additional significant investments for working families including:

  • Provide an additional $1,400 per-person in relief payments to working families.
  • Extend and expand unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Extend the 15 percent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increase through September 2021.
  • $3 billion investment for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program for increased enrollment and to expand outreach for the program.
  • Partner with restaurants, through the FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act, to help get food to families who need it and help get laid-off restaurant workers back on the job.
  • Temporarily cut the state match for SNAP.
  • $5 billion in emergency assistance to secure housing for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
  • Extend the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and continue applications for forbearance on federally guaranteed mortgages until September 30, 2021.
  • $30 billion in additional rental assistance and energy and water assistance for low-income families.
  • Raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • Call on employers of frontline essential workers to provide back hazard pay.
  • Expand access to high-quality ad affordable childcare.
    • $25 billion for an Emergency Stabilization Fund for hard-hit childcare providers in danger of closing;
    • Provide an additional $15 billion in funding for childcare assistance through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program;
    • Increase tax credits to help cover the cost of childcare.
  • Make the Child Tax Credit fully refundable for the year.
  • Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for the year.
  • Provide an additional $1 billion to states to cover additional cash assistance provided to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients.
  • Preserve and expand health care coverage.
    • Subsidize COBRA coverage through September 2021;
    • Expand and increase the value of the Premium Tax Credit.
  • Expand access to behavioral health services by asking Congress to appropriate $4 billion in funding to enable SAMHSA and HRSA to expand access to these services.
  • $20 billion in additional funding to ensure adequate funding for veteran’s health care.
  • $800 million in supplemental funding for various federal programs to combat gender-based violence.

And the final area covered by the American Rescue Plan, support for struggling communities, includes:

  • $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, and territorial governments to ensure they keep frontline workers, such as first responders, public health workers, and other essential workers, on the job to assist with vaccine distribution, testing, reopening schools, and maintaining other vital services.
  • Provide $15 billion in flexible, equitably distributed grants for small businesses.
  • Leverage $35 billion in government funds for $175 billion in additional small business lending and investment including low-interest loans and venture capital.
  • Work with Congress to ensure restaurants, bars, and other businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic have sufficient support through the Community Credit Corporation at the USDA.
  • $20 billion in relief funding for public transit agencies
  • $20 billion to support Tribal governments’ response to the pandemic
  • Several investments to modernize federal information technology against future cyber-attacks.

The Biden-Harris economic recovery plan will be considered by Congress upon the incoming Administration’s inauguration next week. The full proposed spending plan is available here.