Peters Helps Pass American Rescue Plan That Will Provide Significant COVID Relief to Michiganders
Peters Hopeful Relief Package — With $1,400 Stimulus Checks, Funding to Safely Reopen Schools and Speed Up Vaccine Distribution — Will Soon be Law
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today helped the Senate pass robust Coronavirus relief legislation that would provide critical aid to Michiganders. The American Rescue Plan includes funding to distribute direct stimulus checks, accelerate vaccine distribution, help schools reopen safely, extend unemployment benefits and support small businesses. Peters urged the House to swiftly approve the Senate-passed bill so it can be signed into law quickly by President Biden.
“The American Rescue Plan will make a difference for Michiganders by providing robust relief to get through this unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” said Senator Peters, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “With $1,400 stimulus checks and critical investments to help schools safely reopen and accelerate vaccine distribution, this relief will provide a massive shot in the arm of Michiganders and Americans across the country. We are seeing reasons for hope with the increase in vaccines, but we cannot let up. We must work to get this package signed into law quickly — this virus does not take a day off, and neither can we.”
Measures in the American Rescue Plan that Peters supported or led, including through his role as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee include:
- Direct Stimulus Checks: The bill includes a new round of direct payments of $1,400 per adult and child to most Americans. This would ensure that a family of four would receive an additional $5,600. It fulfills Peters’ push to provide individuals with $2,000 stimulus checks, after enacting $600 stimulus checks in December.
- Resources to Expand and Accelerate Vaccine Distribution Programs and Boost Federal Pandemic Response: The bill includes $50 billion to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency support a national vaccination program that administers the vaccine and provides frontline medical professionals the personal protective equipment and testing supplies needed to slow and eventually eliminate the spread of COVID-19. As Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, with oversight of FEMA, Peters was instrumental in securing this funding for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund. Peters will monitor FEMA’s efforts to ensure that the vaccine is widely available to every community as quickly and efficiently as possible, particularly in underserved communities.
- Support for Schools: The package includes $170 billion, which will be supplemented by additional state and local relief, to help schools reopen safely under the guidance of public health officials. This will include $130 billion to better respond to student needs and implement the resources needed to comply with public health protocols. The grants will help schools acquire personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, facilitate smaller class sizes, and improve ventilation systems. Within this funding, $1.25 billion is reserved for evidence-based summer enrichment, $1.25 billion for afterschool programs and $3 billion for education technology.
- Unemployment Assistance: The package provides an additional $300 per week for all workers receiving unemployment benefits, through September 6, 2021. Those making less than $150,000 and receiving unemployment benefits will not have to pay taxes on the first $10,200 they receive. The extension of unemployment benefits will cover millions of Americans that are currently without a job and includes provisions to extend the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which expands eligibility to self-employed workers. Peters helped lead efforts to originally pass these provisions in the CARES Act.
- Support for Small Businesses and Strengthening the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The bill includes $7 billion in support for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses to retain staff and adapt operations as well as expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits. It also ensures that struggling independent live venues, movie theaters and cultural institutions that are already eligible to receive a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant under the Save Our Stages Act, which Peters cosponsored, can simultaneously access a PPP loan. The bill also reauthorizes and provides $10 billion in federal funding to the State Small Business Credit Initiative, including $1.5 billion set-aside for minority-owned businesses, which helps small businesses grow and create jobs. Peters previously led the effort to reauthorize the program in the Senate and championed the original language creating the program in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 as a member of the House of Representatives. The package also includes $25 billion in grants for restaurants and bars that have lost revenue because of the pandemic and $15 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance grants.
- Rental and Housing Assistance: The bill includes $25 billion for rental assistance, which is in addition to the $25 billion Peters helped secure in the latest round of relief enacted this past December. The American Rescue Plan provides $10 billion to support struggling homeowners, who face a looming foreclosure crisis, and $5 billion to support people experiencing homelessness. These programs are similar to policies Peters has supported. Peters was a cosponsor of the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act, which would create an Emergency Rental Assistance program to help families and individuals pay their rent and utility bills, and a cosponsor of legislation to create a Housing Assistance Fund to help protect renters, homeowners, and communities by preventing avoidable foreclosures, evictions, and utility shut offs.
- Support for State and Local Governments: The legislation would provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments to help them continue essential services and retain critical public servants such as police officers, firefighters, EMTs and teachers. It also includes $10 billion for the Coronavirus Capital Improvements Fund to help cities and counties fund critical capital projects like broadband access.
- Support for Firefighters and Emergency Responders: Peters continued his efforts to deliver for our nation’s brave firefighters by securing an additional $300 million in funding for firefighters and other emergency responders who are on the frontlines of pandemic response efforts. These critical funds will help ensure these heroes have access to PPE, are able to be paid for sick leave and overtime, and fire departments have the support they need as state and local governments continue to face revenue shortfalls due to the pandemic.
- Strengthening Oversight of Pandemic Relief Funds: The plan will include $40 million for the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC). The PRAC, which Peters created as part of the CARES Act, helps to ensure that stimulus funds from pandemic relief bills are being used effectively and reaching the hardworking families, small businesses and communities that need them most. Peters also secured $77 million for the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ independent watchdog, to continue their oversight of the federal response to the pandemic.
- Relief for Local Emergency Services: Peters fought to include $100 million for state and local emergency management agencies so that our communities in Michigan and across the nation are better prepared to respond to crises such as the pandemic and other disasters.
- Emergency Food and Shelter Support: Michiganders continue to struggle financially as a result of the pandemic. Peters fought for $400 million to be included in the legislation for FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program which provides immediate assistance to people who need shelter, meals, rent or mortgage assistance and more.
- Modernizing and Securing Information Systems: Peters fought to secure significant investments to strengthen cybersecurity and upgrade information technology equipment and systems that people are counting on to get through the pandemic. Peters secured $650 million to strengthen cybersecurity defenses, which will help prevent adversaries and bad actors from hacking vaccine research, distribution efforts, and patient information. This funding will also help federal employees work efficiently and securely from home. Peters secured $650 million to strengthen cybersecurity defenses against efforts to hack vaccine research and distribution information, and to help agencies better adapt to working from home. Peters also secured $200 million to provide additional support to agencies as they deliver pandemic response services, including vaccine scheduling for veterans, unemployment assistance, and stimulus checks. Finally, Peters also secured $1 billion to update government computer systems, such as those that have struggled to process unemployment data for unemployment benefits and distribute accurate information about stimulus payments to people in need.
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