U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) voted in favor of the American Rescue Plan last night, the COVID relief bill that will now advance to the Senate.
The bill provides much-needed funding to mount a national vaccine distribution program; provides support for schools to help them reopen safely; ushers in more relief for small businesses with additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, and by establishing a dedicated restaurant relief fund; provides up to $1,400 stimulus payments for those who qualify; extends federal unemployment benefits through August; and provides funding for state and local governments to keep basic services going, prevent layoffs and set Michigan communities up for a successful long-term recovery despite significant lost revenue due to COVID.
“This pandemic is the No. 1 threat to Michiganders’ health and economic security right now — folks are worried about keeping their loved ones healthy, their businesses open, and their livelihoods intact,” Slotkin said. “To me, this means passing additional relief that above all, supercharges distribution of the vaccine, and gets more help out to our small businesses, families and schools.”
“That said, there are certainly aspects of this bill I don’t like,” Slotkin continued. “As with earlier COVID relief packages we have considered, it’s far from perfect. I would have preferred a more targeted distribution of stimulus checks, and that we had kept this package narrowly tailored to COVID relief. However, when I went through the entire bill, significant benefits to families, businesses, schools, and local communities outweighed my concerns. It’s my foremost responsibility to get our community that relief, even if the bill isn’t perfect.”
“New in this bill, and significant for Michigan: $25 billion in targeted relief for restaurants, part of a new restaurant relief grant program to be run by the SBA. This program is aimed at helping our struggling restaurants keep employees on payroll, make mortgage and rent payments, and cover other operating expenses.”
Slotkin said she is also glad the bill includes state and local funding, including $5.7 billion for the State of Michigan, and an additional $4.38 billion for Michigan’s county, city and township governments.
“We have seen revenues in our counties, towns and municipalities plummet by millions during the pandemic and this funding is essential if we’re to prevent the layoff of our firefighters, police and first responders as a result,” Slotkin said. “Not only that, but our local communities have made clear they need these funds to ramp up the staffing necessary to get the vaccine out to people as fast as possible, carry out health inspections and contact tracing, and administer summer school.”
These hard-fought resources will prevent budget cuts, Slotkin said, as well as lay down infrastructure needed to get communities back to mornal as soon as possible.
“For these reasons, despite my reservations about some aspects of this bill, it has my support,” Slotkin said.
Republican Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett commended the inclusion of state and local funding in the package: “Cities know best how to restart the economy and help our families. Providing direct, flexible spending at the local level is key to moving forward,” he said.
THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN:
(1) Supercharges Vaccine Distribution
• Provides over $20 billion to establish a national COVID-19 vaccination program, including for FEMA to establish vaccination sites across the country; to prepare, promote, distribute, and track COVID-19 vaccines through the CDC; and for the CDC to undertake a vaccine awareness and engagement campaign
• Provides $47.8 billion to scale up testing and tracing, and puts $10 billion behind domestic production of masks and other protective equipment.
• Provides $1.75 billion for genomic surveillance so that the U.S. can begin to adequately detect and respond to emerging and potentially more dangerous strains of SARS-COV-2 throughout the world. This infrastructure will also be critical to responding to future viral outbreaks.
(2) Helps Safely Reopen Schools
• Provides $130 billion to make sure our schools, teachers and students have what they need to get back into the classroom, safely –– like repairing ventilation systems, reducing class sizes and implementing social distancing guidelines, purchasing personal protective equipment, and hiring support staff. Michigan would receive approximately $3.92 billion for K-12 schools in the state.
• Includes nearly $40 billion for institutions of higher education who are struggling to make up for lost revenue –– with half of the funding going directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants. Estimated funding for 8th district institutions of higher learning include:
— Michigan State University: $81 million
— Cleary University: $1.18 million
— Lansing Community College: $21.25 million
— Rochester University: $2.53 million
— Oakland University: $39 million
• $7.6 billion to expand internet connectivity for students and teachers, a challenge for many communities in the 8th district. These resources will be disbursed through the E-rate program, in which the FCC may reimburse eligible schools and libraries for the cost of eligible devices, internet service, hotspots, and more.
(3) Helps Our Small Businesses
• Provides $25 billion through a new program to specifically help our restaurants and other food and drinking establishments, run through the SBA.
— $5 billion of these funds will be allocated to businesses with less than $500,000 in 2019 revenue. The grants provided in this program will help struggling restaurants pay their employees, make mortgage and rent payments, and cover other operating expenses.
• Supports our local performance venues with an additional $1.25 billion for the SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program.
• Includes an additional $7.25 billion for PPP and an additional $15 billion for Targeted EIDL Advance loans.
(4) Provides Direct Relief to Families
• Provides direct payments of $1,400 per person for those making under $75,000 per year, with a smaller benefit for those making up between $75,000 and $100,000 per year. Adult dependents (i.e. college students, certain adults with disabilities, etc.) are now eligible to also receive this benefit.
• Extends federal unemployment programs through August 29, 2021, and increases the weekly federal supplemental benefit from $300 to $400.
• Provides direct rental, mortgage, and nutrition assistance.
• Expands access to safe and reliable child care by providing funding to the Child Care Entitlement to States, and to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. Michigan would receive approximately $1.14 billion in child care funding between the CCDBG program and the Child Care Stabilization fund.
• Expands affordable health care –– supporting individuals seeking coverage through Medicaid, COBRA, or the ACA Marketplace –– subsidizing COBRA coverage for those who lose their job but want to maintain their employer coverage, increasing tax credits for this who purchase coverage through the ACA Marketplace, and more.
• Expands the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit and increases the amount families are eligible to receive for both, putting money in the pockets of hardworking Michigan families.
• Includes assistance for unemployed veterans, providing funding for the Veterans Health Administration, and waiving copayments for medical care for veterans during the pandemic.
(5) Provides State and Local Funding to Prevent Layoffs, Support Vaccine Distribution, Set Michigan Communities on Path to Recovery
• Provides $5.7 billion to help the state of Michigan make up for lost revenue and provide support for small businesses, frontline workers, and make investments in infrastructure and broadband to drive post-pandemic competitiveness.
• Includes an additional $4.38 billion for local communities in Michigan, to help address millions in lost revenue due to COVID, and specifically support significant staffing needs for school districts facing layoffs and reduction in staff, and for county health departments in need of man-power to administer the vaccine, carry out inspections, and increase efficiency in the technology used to support vaccine appointments.
• The $4.38 billion in funding for Michigan’s local governments would include, but is not limited to, the below estimated funding to assist 8th district communities:
— Livingston County: $38 million
— Brighton (city and township): $4.89 million
— Oakland County: $246 million
— Ingham County: $57 million
— Lansing: $47 million
— Rochester Hills: $13.8 million