President Biden And Congressional Democrats Near The Finish Line On Passage Of The American Rescue Plan – Government, Public Sector
President Biden And Congressional Democrats Near The Finish Line On Passage Of The American Rescue Plan
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President Joe Biden staked the opening weeks of his
administration on passing a $1.9 trillion package – the American
Rescue Plan (ARP) – intended to: (1) accelerate vaccine delivery
and distribution; (2) facilitate the reopening of public K-12
schools; (3) provide large-scale aid to state and local
governments; (4) inject more support into the Paycheck Protection
Program and other initiatives to help small business and select
industries weather the pandemic; and (5) provide another round of
stimulus checks to tens of millions of Americans.
To pass this package, President Biden and congressional
Democrats are using the budget reconciliation process, which
fast-tracks a bill for passage with only 50 votes in the Senate
instead of the normal 60 needed to overcome objections to proceed,
which any Senator can raise. The downside of reconciliation is that
it can only be used for legislation that raises revenue or directs
new federal spending, and thus most policy directives cannot be
included in a reconciliation measure.
In order to move with the greatest speed, President Biden and
congressional Democrats largely drafted the legislation on their
own, with the exception of one high-profile White House meeting
between the President and the group of moderate Senators who
brokered the December 2020 relief package compromise.
The House will vote on the ARP on Friday, February 26, and it is
expected to pass narrowly on a party-line or near party-line vote.
It is possible that five or fewer Republicans vote for the bill.
This is a sharp contrast to the three major COVID-19 relief
packages that Congress passed in 2020: (1) the Families First
Coronavirus Response Act (Passed the House 363-40; Passed the
Senate 90-8); (2) the CARES Act (Passed the House by voice vote;
Passed the Senate 96-0); and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of
2021 (Passed the House 327-85 and 359-53; Passed the Senate 92-6).
Congress’ inability to pass the ARP with bipartisan support
suggests this may be the last COVID-19 relief package until the
second half of the year, when several key CARES provisions are set
to expire on September 30.
Once the bill passes the House, the Senate will bring it
immediately to the floor and begin debate, bypassing the committee
process. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has
consistently promised Congress will deliver the bill to President
Biden before March 14, when extended unemployment benefits are
scheduled to expire.
While we know the Senate will ultimately pass the ARP, the
content of the final package is still unclear. On Thursday,
February 25, the Senate parliamentarian ruled the proposed minimum
wage increase in the ARP does not comply with the restrictions of
the reconciliation process, also known as the “Byrd
Rule,” which limits reconciliation bills to provisions that
materially raise revenue or spend federal funds. The House is still
going to pass the ARP with the minimum wage provision, so the
Senate will then strip the provision out in its debate and make
other changes before it sends the package back to the House. The
House will then need to vote on the Senate-passed version of the
ARP before it can head to the President’s desk. We would expect
that second House vote to again be decided by a very narrow margin
and perhaps strictly on party lines.
On the Republican side, the most likely candidates to support
the ARP are Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski
(R-AK). But it is possible the ARP will pass without any Republican
support in the Senate after Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mitt
Romney (R-UT) penned editorials on February 24 in the
Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal
presenting a litany of reasons Republicans should not support the
If no Republicans vote for the ARP, Vice President Kamala Harris
will cast a tie-breaking vote for the package.
Multiple reputable public polls out in the last two weeks have
shown broad, bipartisan public support for the ARP hovering around
65-70% of voters. President Biden and congressional Democrats are
betting voters care more about the substance of ARP than if it
passed on a party-line vote. Congressional Republicans are betting
that they will not be punished by voters in 2022 for voting against
the ARP because they consider much of the bill unnecessary spending
that has little to do with the emergency elements of the
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Below is our summary of the leading elements of the American
Title I – Agriculture Committee
Subtitle A – Agriculture
- Extends funding for USDA to purchase
and distribute food and agricultural commodities, make grants and
loans to small and midsized agricultural businesses to respond to
and protect workers from COVID-19, and maintain and improve food
and agricultural supply chain resilience.
- $500 million for targeted Community
Facility grants for health and nutritional-related infrastructure
and distribution critical to addressing COVID-19.
- $1.01 billion to the Secretary of
Agriculture for assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers,
ranchers, and forest landowners who have historically faced
discrimination from USDA.
- $800 million for Food for Peace Title
II grants to support US-led humanitarian food aid.
Subtitle B – Nutrition
- Extends the 15% increase in
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from June
30, 2021 to September 30, 2021.
- Appropriates $1.150 billion for SNAP
administrative expenses to help states administer the program with
- $25 million for additional assistance
for SNAP online purchases and technology improvements to help
support SNAP mobile payment technology and update the electronic
benefit transfer system.
- $1 billion for grants to the
Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and American
Samoa for nutrition assistance.
- $37 million for the Commodity
Supplemental Food Program.
Title II – Education and Labor Committee
- Increases the minimum wage from $7.25
per hour to $15 per hour by 2025.
- $15 billion for the Child Care and
Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which will go to states in a
similar manner as previous CCDBG funds, as well as allow states to
waive eligibility requirements to provide child care assistance to
health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation
workers, and other essential workers during the pandemic.
- $24 billion for the Child Care
Stabilization Fund, which states will award as subgrants to
qualified child care providers to support stabilizing the child
care sector during the pandemic.
- $128.6 billion for the Elementary and
Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, of which school districts
must use 20% of the funds they receive to address learning
- $39.6 billion for the Higher
Education Emergency Relief Fund, of which non-profit institutions
of higher education must use at least 50% of their funds on
emergency financial aid grants to students.
- Includes maintenance of effort
language requiring states to maintain support for K-12 and higher
education in FY 2022 and 2023 at the same proportional level
relative to the state’s overall spending averaged over FY
- $100 million for the Institute of
Education Sciences for research to address learning loss caused by
the coronavirus among specific student populations, including
homeless students, students in foster care, and students whose
parent is a member of the military.
- No student loan relief.
- $91.1 million for the Student Aid
Administration to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,
which can be used for direct outreach to students or borrowers
related to financial aid, economic impact payments, means-tested
benefits, and tax benefits, if the student is eligible.
- $150 million for the Department of
Labor to implement COVID-19 related worker protection activities,
including $10 million for Susan Harwood training grants and at
least $5 million for Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) enforcement of high-risk workplaces, including healthcare,
meat and poultry processing facilities, agricultural workplaces,
and correctional facilities.
- $1.4 billion for Older American Act
programs, including $750 million for nutrition programs, $25
million for nutrition and related services for Native American
programs, $470 million for Home and Community Based Services, $44
million for Title III-D programs to support healthy lifestyles,
$145 million for the National Family Caregiver Support program, and
$10 million for the long-term care ombudsman program.
- $425 million for the Secretary of
Health and Human Services to use for cost increases due to COVID-19
within Administration for Children and Families programs.
- $250 million for child abuse and
neglect prevention programs under Title II of the Child Abuse
Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), as well as an additional $100
million for child abuse and neglect treatment and response state
programs under section 106 of CAPTA.
Title III – Energy and Commerce (Healthcare)
- $7.5 billion for activities to plan,
prepare for, promote, distribute, administer, monitor, and track
- $1 billion to strengthen vaccine
confidence, provide education on licensed vaccines, and improve
- $5.2 billion for COVID-19 vaccines
and therapeutics supply chains.
- $500 million for FDA activities
regarding vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for COVID-19
- $46 billion for COVID-19 testing,
contact tracing, surveillance, and mitigation.
- $1.75 billion for genomic sequencing,
analytics, and disease surveillance.
- $750 million for global health
security, global disease detection and response, global health
protection, global immunization, and global coordination on public
- $500 million for public health data
surveillance, analytics infrastructure modernization initiatives,
and a US disease warning system.
- $7.6 billion to establish, expand,
and sustain a public health workforce.
- $100 million for the Volunteer
Medical Reserve Corps.
- $7.6 billion for Community Health
- $800 million for the National Health
- $200 million for Nursing Workforce
Development loan repayment and scholarship programs.
- $330 million for Teaching Health
Centers that operate Graduate Medical Education.
- $1.8 billion to detect, diagnose,
trace, and monitor SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 infections, and to
mitigate the spread in congregate settings.
- $50 million for grants and contracts
for family planning services.
- $425 million for children in the care
of personnel employed by or under a grant, cooperative agreement,
or contract with HHS.
- $5 million for the HHS Office of
Inspector General for oversight activities.
- $6.09 billion for the Indian Health
- $1.75 billion for block grants for
community mental health services.
- $1.75 billion for block grants for
prevention and treatment of substance abuse.
- $80 million for Health Resources and
Services Administration (HRSA)-administered mental health
- $20 million for Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC)-administered mental health programs
for health care professionals and first responders.
- $40 million for HRSA-administered
mental health programs for health workforce professionals.
- $30 million for Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)-administered
infectious disease prevention programs for individuals with
substance use disorders.
- $50 million for SAMHSA-administered
mental health programs.
- $10 million for grants to address
high-risk or medically underserved persons who experience
- $30 million for prioritizing mental
health needs of regional and national significance with respect to
advancing wellness and resiliency in education.
- $20 million for Youth Suicide
- $100 million for mental and
behavioral health education and training grants.
- $20 million for grants for
modernization of American Health Benefits Exchanges.
- Requires Medicaid state plans to
cover: (1) the cost of COVID-19 vaccines and administration; (2)
drugs, biologicals, products or services for the treatment, or
prevention, of COVID–19; and (4) treatment of a condition
that may seriously complicate the treatment of COVID-19.
- Extends Medicaid coverage of
pregnancy-related and postpartum medical assistance from 60 days
following birth to 12 months.
- Provides Medicaid coverage for
services for incarcerated individuals for the 30-day period
preceding their release.
- Extends Medicaid coverage to
community-based mobile crisis intervention services.
- Incentivizes non-Medicaid expansion
states to expand their programs by increasing the federal medical
assistance percentage (FMAP) FMAP for by five percent for two years
following Medicaid expansion.
- Provides a 100% FMAP for services
provided by Urban Indian Health Organizations and Native Hawaiian
Health Care Systems, for two years.
- Sunsets the current cap on Medicaid
rebates for single source and innovator multiple source drugs,
effective January 1, 2023.
- Increases the FMAP for home and
community-based services (HCBS) by 7.35 percent for one year, but
caps FMAP for such services at 95%.
- $250 million for state COVID-19
strike teams deployed to nursing homes.
- Requires Children’s Health
Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage of COVID-19 vaccines, drugs,
biological products, and treatments (including administration)
without cost sharing to the beneficiary.
- Allows the option for states to
extend full CHIP benefits for women through the 12-month postpartum
Title IV – Financial Services Committee
- $10 billion to enhance the
availability of medical supplies and equipment through the use of
the Defense Production Act, particularly for PPE, diagnostic
supplies/equipment, and vaccines and other products for use in
preventing or treading COVID-19.
- $10 billion for a reauthorized State
Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), to support state-run
programs aimed at supporting small businesses including capital
access programs, collateral support programs, loan guarantee
programs, and venture capital programs.
- $25 billion for emergency rental
assistance, the bulk of which will be allocated by the Treasury
Department to state and local governments for purposes of helping
renters with rent and utilities assistance. $5 billion of these
funds will go toward Housing Choice Vouchers to transition at risk
people to stable housing, and other smaller sums will target Native
American housing needs, USDA-subsidized properties, and housing
- $5 billion for homelessness
- $10 billion for homeowner assistance
funding, distributed to states/territories/tribes for providing
direct assistance with mortgage payments, taxes, utilities,
insurance, and other related costs.
Title V – Oversight and Investigations Committee
- $219.8 billion for State Coronavirus
Fiscal Recovery Funds to be distributed to States, territories, and
Tribal governments, which can be used to respond to or mitigate
COVID-19 or its negative economic impact, cover costs incurred,
replace lost revenue, or address the negative economic impacts of
- $130.2 billion for Local Coronavirus
fiscal Recovery Funds, of which $65.1 billion is to be distributed
to cities using a modified Community Development Block Grant
formula and $65.1 billion goes to counties within 60 days of the
Treasury Department receiving the county’s Certification of
- $570 million for the Emergency
Federal Employee Leave Fund, which would provide up to 600 hours of
emergency paid leave related to COVID-19 to civilian federal
employees and postal workers until September 30, 2021.
- $77 million to the Government
- $40 million to the Pandemic Response
Accountability Committee to promote transparency and support
oversight of the coronavirus response and of funds provided in this
and other COVID-related Acts.
Title VI – Small Business Committee
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- $7.25 billion for new Paycheck
Protection Program loans.
- Expands nonprofit eligibility for PPP
First Draw and Second Draw loans to include all 501(c)
organizations meeting the required size standard except for
501(c)(4)s; nonprofits that, if they were a business entity, would
be described in 13 CFR 120.110 (excluding paragraphs (a) and (k);
and organizations with significant lobbying activities.
- Makes larger nonprofits eligible for
PPP by striking the application of the SBA’s affiliation rules
to nonprofits and instead looking at the employee headcount at the
“per physical location” level of the organization.
- Expands PPP First Draw and Second
Draw eligibility for internet publishing organizations that meet
the required size standard and have a NAICS code of 519130.
Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance
- $15 billion for the Targeted Economic
Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance program.
- Directs EPA to, 28 days after
enactment, make remaining funding for the Targeted EIDL Advance
program available for supplemental grants to “severely
impacted” small businesses.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund
- Establishes the Restaurant
Revitalization Fund to provide grants of up to $10 million, subject
to certain exceptions, to food and beverage establishments with no
more than 20 locations that suffer “pandemic-related revenue
- $25 billion for the Restaurant
Revitalization Fund, of which $5 billion is set aside for
businesses with less than $500,000 in 2019 annual revenue.
Community Navigator Pilot Program
- Establishes the Community Navigator
Pilot Program through December 31, 2025 to increase awareness of
and participating in COVID-19 relief programs for business owners
currently lacking access, with priority for businesses owned by
socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, women, and
- $100 million for community navigator
grants to be awarded to organizations to ensure the delivery of
free community navigator services to businesses to improve access
to COVID-19 relief programs.
- $75 million for outreach and
education related to the community navigator services.
Shuttered Venue Operators
- $1.25 billion more for the SBA
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, including a set aside for
technical assistance to help entities apply for grants.
- $840 million for administrative costs
to prevent, prepare, and respond to COVID-19, including expenses
related to PPP, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, and
Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
- $460 million for the SBA’s
disaster loan program, of which $70 million is for the cost of
direct loans and $390 million is for administrative costs.
- $25 million for SBA’s Office of
Inspector General for oversight.
Title VII – Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
- $50 billion for FEMA’s Disaster
Relief Fund for response and recovery activities related to
- $30 billion for transit agencies to
assist with payroll and operating expenses, including PPE
- $8 billion for airports to cover
operating expenses, debt service payments, and airport development
projects, including $800 million for airport concessionaires.
- $3 billion for the Economic
Development Administration to provide adjustment assistance to help
prevent, prepare for, and respond to economic injury caused by the
- $3 billion in temporary payroll
support to retain or rehire workers in aerospace
- $1.5 billion for Amtrak to provide
assistance to rail workers and restore daily long-distance
- $15 billion for airline industry
workers via the Payroll Support Program, which is extended from
March 31 to September 30, 2021. This includes $14 billion for
employees of eligible air carriers, as well as $1 billion for
employees of eligible aviation contractors.
Title VIII – Veterans’ Affairs Committee
- $272 million for veterans claims and
appeals processing, which will remain available until September 30,
- $13.5 billion for veterans’
medical care and health needs, which includes no greater than $4
billion for health care provided through the Veterans Community
Care program. The funding will remain available until September 30,
- $100 for the supply chain
modernization initiative within the Department of VA, which shall
remain available until September 30, 2022.
- $500 million for VA state homes,
which shall remain available until expended and $250 million for a
one-time obligation to existing state extended care facilities for
veterans, which shall remain available until September 30,
- Provides $386 million for a 12-month
COVID-19 veteran rapid retraining assistance program to help
veterans unemployed as a result of the pandemic.
- Prohibits the VA from charging
veterans’ copayments for medical care during the pandemic.
Title IX – Ways and Means Committee
- $422 billion in recovery rebates of
$1,400 to eligible taxpayers and dependents.
- $110 billion in expanded Child Tax
Credits for families.
- $25 billion in strengthened Earned
Income Tax Credits.
- $8 billion in expanded Child and
Dependent Care Tax Credits.
- Stabilizes multiemployer provided
pensions for more than 1 million Americans.
- $200 million for infection control
support to skilled nursing facilities through contracts with
quality improvement organizations.
- $250 million for strike teams for
resident and employee safety in skilled nursing facilities.
- Provides 85% premium assistance for
assistance eligible individuals that are enrolled in COBRA
- Temporarily expands the availability
and amount of Affordable Care Act premium tax credits.
- Temporarily suspends a tax on
individuals if their advance premium tax credit is higher than the
premium tax credit that the individual was entitled to receive
during that year.
- Establishes a special rule during
taxable year 2021, under which individuals who receive unemployment
compensation are treated as having a household income of no higher
than 133% of the federal poverty line for purposes of eligibility
for premium tax credits.
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