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Politics

Greek-American Rep. John Sarbanes on the American Rescue Plan

March 1, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – Greek-American Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) on February 27 released a statement about the American Rescue Plan. The text of his statement follows:

“Today, I voted to pass the American Rescue Plan, a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package that will help control the virus, ramp up the distribution of vaccines in every community, safely reopen schools, put money into Marylanders' pockets, support small businesses and provide vital economic aid to state and local governments across our state so that Maryland communities can maintain vital services and keep residents safe.

This robust new round of COVID-19 relief will help us get to the other side of the ongoing public health crisis.

Key provisions of the American Rescue Plan include:

Accelerating vaccine distribution for all Americans, expanding testing capacity, improving contact tracing, enhancing treatment and controlling the virus. This includes creating a national vaccination program to speed up the equitable distribution of vaccines, partnering with state and local governments to set up community vaccination centers, funding COVID-19 testing and contract tracing programs, increasing stockpiles of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, investing in high-quality treatments and addressing health care disparities.

Helping schools reopen safely. This includes funding for K-12 schools and higher education institutions to help mitigate costs related to the pandemic and keep students, teachers and school workers safe.

Sending direct payments to American families. This includes $1,400 for individuals, $2,800 for couples, and an additional $1,400 for every child or dependent. Direct payments will phase out for individuals earning more than $75,000 and for couples earning more than $150,000.

Supporting state and local governments. This includes dedicated funding for state, local, tribal and territorial governments to help pay for COVID-19 emergency costs, compensate first responders, public health personnel, transit workers, teachers and other essential frontline workers and deliver critical community services for the American people.

Extending and expanding unemployment benefits. This includes increasing federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation to $400 per week, up from $300 per week, and continuing jobless benefits through August 2021.

Extending another lifeline to small businesses. This includes increasing resources for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, and helping small businesses stay open, keep employees on the payroll and continue playing a vital role in American communities.

Strengthening and expanding federal nutrition programs to address the current hunger crisis. This includes extending increased monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through September 2021 and boosting support for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

Delivering housing and rental assistance. This includes extending the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums through September 2021 and providing rental assistance for struggling families across the country.

Assisting child care providers and helping parents get back to work. This includes grant funding for child care providers to cover payroll, rent and personal protective equipment costs, among other needs. It also helps provide child care for low-income families.

Strengthening America's health care system. This includes expanding access to affordable health insurance – especially for unemployed and low-income Americans – through COBRA, the Affordable Care Act marketplaces and Medicaid. It also includes robust funding for Community Health Centers, tribal health programs and state, local and territorial health departments to help expand the delivery of health care to every community across the country.

Aiding America's veterans. This includes critical resources to help the VA meet the health and economic needs of our nation's veterans, including funds to waive copays for treatment and to reduce the backlog of veterans' claims and appeals caused by the pandemic.

Providing emergency transportation relief. This includes targeted funding for public transportation systems, transit agencies and airports, along with rail funding for Amtrak and support for the aviation manufacturing and airline workforce.

During this tremendously challenging time, I will continue to work closely with my colleagues in Congress to build a stronger and more equitable country as we recover from this tragic pandemic.

As always, my office is available to help you and your families access important federal services and benefits, like Social Security and Medicare. If you need assistance, please send me an email: [email protected] or call 410-832-8890 during normal business hours.”

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