By Pacific Island Times News Staff
House prepares final push for American Rescue Plan
Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on final approval of the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion bill put forward by President Biden and Democrats in Congress to address the continuing economic and health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Senate amended the rescue plan in a ‘vote-a-rama’ over the weekend,” Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said, “and now the House must vote to agree those changes and send the bill to the president.”
Provisions of the American Rescue Plan of most concern to people in the Marianas were untouched in the final Senate bill, Sablan said.
Republicans did offer an amendment to reduce the amount for the Commonwealth government from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund. The money is to make up for lost revenues. The Republican amendment would have cut the Commonwealth share of fiscal relief from $483 million to $138 million, a 72 percent reduction.
Senate Democrats beat back the amendment and added to the acceptable uses for the half billion dollars. The money may now be spent for investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure, in addition to providing assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, affected by the pandemic, or to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality.
The American Rescue Plan also includes about $160 million for the Public School System, which should ensure teachers and staff are paid and Marianas schools remain open. And there is $30 million for the Marianas Nutrition Assistance Program.
The legislation extends federal unemployment assistance through August. And individual taxpayers with income below $75,000 will receive an additional $1,400 tax rebate; those married and filing jointly with income below $150,000 receive $2,800. Another $1,400 is available for each dependent child.
In addition, the Child Tax Credit for families is raised and made monthly; and the Earned Income Tax Credit in the Marianas will permanently be paid by the federal government.
No Republican voted for the American Rescue Plan in the House or the Senate.