As America’s 46th President, Biden announced his American Rescue Plan days leading up to the inauguration aimed to provide additional support amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Despite walking back on promises to provide $2000 survival checks to struggling families, Biden’s American Rescue Plan will still provide some aid while also working to address concerns around vaccines, and school openings.
For starters, Biden’s American Rescue Plan will provide stimulus checks to struggling individuals and families, but the amount promised has been dialed back. Despite using the fight for $2000 checks to help the Democrats win the Georgia Special Election at the beginning of the month, the amount of that aid has fallen to $1400, an amount that, when provided with the previous months $600, equals out to $2000.
While this move has caused an uproar due to the continued lack of aid coming from the federal government, the amount is likely to change given the strong conservative leaning that persists in the U.S. Senate, as well as Biden’s belief that he will not pass further aid without compromising with Republicans.
Besides the fact, though, there are other major points to take away from the American Rescue Plan besides the less than steller stimulus news.
A crucial aspect — that should offer a semblance of optimism — is the plan’s indication of mounting a $20 billion national COVID-19 vaccination program, something that the U.S. is currently lacking and is a major factor in the confusing rollout of the vaccine. The plan also calls for additional measures to contain COVID-19 — which could include a national mask mandate, as Biden mentioned on many occasions — as well as more contact tracing efforts, paid sick leave provisions and investments into K-8 schools so as to reopen them within Biden’s first one hundred days.
The plan also calls for a buildup of emergency relief supplies, additional deployment of the national guard to hotspots, increased investment in the manufacturing of pandemic supplies and the allocation of funds to localities, tribal governments and US territories to tackle the ongoing pandemic.
The American Relief Plan calls on providing sick leave to 106 million more Americans to reduce the spread of the virus. In an effort to accomplish this, the plan states six points that Biden is calling on Congress to address that include:
- Put the requirement back in place and eliminate exemptions for employers with more than 500 and less than 50 employees.
- Provide expanded paid sick and family and medical leave.
- Expand emergency paid leave to include federal workers.
- Provide a maximum paid leave benefit of $1,400 per-week for eligible workers.
- Reimburse employers with less than 500 employees for the cost of this leave.
- Reimburse state and local government for the cost of this leave.
- Extend emergency paid leave measures until September 30, 2021.
Other matters mentioned also include preventing outbreaks inside prisons, tracking and identifying new strains of the virus, creating more public health jobs and incentivizing cooperation with other countries to contain the virus. All in all, creating an ambitious bill that — while miles from perfect — at least shows some commitment to addressing the virus, something that the country has yet to see from the fading Trump administration.
Discourse around stimulus checks aside, the American Rescue Plan has seen praise from some elected officials, including Michigan’s own Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
President-elect Biden understands that in order to build our economy back better, we must join forces to end the COVID-19 pandemic. His American Rescue Plan will help us do both. I have been calling on the federal government to pass crucial funding for state and local governments for months, and I am glad that the incoming Biden Administration has heard those calls, shared Whitmer in a press release commenting on the release of the American Rescue Plan.
“The president-elect’s plan will help us end the pandemic by mounting a national vaccine program to speed up vaccinations here in Michigan. The plan will also provide some much-needed relief for our families and small businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic,” she added. “Once again, President-elect Biden has proven that he will work around the clock to end the COVID-19 pandemic and build our economy back better. I’m proud to have a partner in the White House who will help us get things done for Michiganders.”
With Biden set to take office — pending any other nonsense from American’s own homegrown terrorist groups — on this upcoming Wednesday, the American Relief Plan could become a real thing in the coming month. Until then, check out our rundown on the local vaccine rollout, or take a look at the complete draft of the American Rescue Plan here.
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