The House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday on the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion package designed to provide economic relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill was sent Tuesday to the House after it passed the Senate in a 50-49 vote Saturday, according to CBS News.
Proponents of the legislation have touted its direct stimulus to Americans, and the plan also includes funding for vaccines, medical necessities, bailout money for pensions, and infrastructure projects.
Here’s what’s actually in the American Rescue Plan.
Individuals making less than $75,000 a year will be eligible for a $1,400 stimulus check, while married couples making less than $150,000 combined will be eligible for a $2,800 stimulus check. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Republican watchdog group monitoring fiscal issues, estimates that stimulus checks will cost $422 billion. This is the most expensive provision within the American Rescue Plan.
State and Local Bailouts
The bailout provision within the American Rescue Plan proved especially unpopular among Republicans, as eight out of the 10 states with the worst debt-to-equity ratios have Democratic governors. The plan gave states and the District of Columbia $195 billion in federal funding, while local governments, territories, and tribes received and $155 billion. These funds have very few strings attached, and may be used to pay down debts states have accumulated through spending unrelated to the pandemic. (RELATED: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Threatens Lawsuit Against Biden Administration Over COVID-19 Relief Funds)
Vaccines and PPE
$160 billion, or less than 10% of the entire package, will go towards vaccine production and distribution and other healthcare related to COVID-19.
“Doesn’t that make sense [to] invest $20 billion? Or $160 billion in total towards the pandemic for testing, to protective gear, to vaccine production and distribution?” President Joe Biden said at a White House briefing. “What would you have me cut?”
The plan included $86 billion in pension plans for 185 unions, including those representing truck drivers, builders, retail clerks, the New York Times noted. Many union pension plans were in danger of becoming underfunded, causing collapse.
Unions generally endorsed Biden during the 2020 election cycle, including the National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
The American Rescue Plan did not include the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits government funding of abortion. Biden, who supported the Hyde Amendment as a senator, changed his mind on the Amendment during the Democratic primaries, saying that he believed government-funded abortion is a women’s rights issue.
As currently written, the so-called American Rescue Plan would allow taxpayer funding for abortion contrary to the decades-old Hyde amendment that has applied to every other #COVID19 relief package.
We will be scoring against the bill. https://t.co/FpxBE6VAXf
— Susan B. Anthony List #StopBecerra (@SBAList) March 5, 2021
Foreign Food Aid
The bill directs $800 million toward foreign food aid via the Commodity Credit Corporation, a New Deal-era agency that regulates agricultural production. The aid money must be spent by an October 2022 deadline.
Museums and Culture
The bill directs a combined $470 million towards the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Former President Donald Trump tried on multiple occasions to slash funds for and even eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, but was unsuccessful.
Environmental and Health Equity
The Environmental Protection Agency will receive $100 million to “to address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID–19 pandemic.” Half of the fund will be used just to identify any existing disparities. Biden put equity concerns at the forefront of his 2020 presidential campaign‘s climate platform.
The bill directs $20 million “to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages.” These funds would be allocated via grants to programs that offer “native language immersion and restoration programs.”