Pittsburgh, Pa. – March 10, 2021 − Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa thanked members of Congress today for their affirmative votes on the American Rescue Plan, a COVID relief bill that provides $1.9 trillion in funding.
“COVID-19 has been a long, dark tunnel and we are starting to see light at the end of it,” said Senator Costa. “As more and more folks are vaccinated against this virus, funds will now flow to our communities and aid their recovery, thanks to the American Rescue Plan. I applaud the members of Congress who voted for this bold piece of legislation that will help working families recuperate from the last year and allow state and local governments to continue to provide critical services.”
The bill includes payments of up to $1,400 for families with incomes of less than $160,000 per year and individuals with income up to $80,000. That means that 5,876,366 Pennsylvanians would receive a total of $14.8 billion in direct payment from the federal government.
Under the extension of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), people who are unemployed would get $300 added to their regular weekly unemployment benefits through September 6. Under the extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), freelancers, gig workers, and independent contractors would continue to receive unemployment insurance during that time. Under the extension of the Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, provisions that increase the duration of payments for those in the traditional state unemployment system, would continue as well. The first $10,200 of unemployment payments would be tax-free for households with annual incomes of less than $150,000.
642,478 Pennsylvanians, (10.23% of all workers in the state) were facing a cut-off of these benefits. They will now continue.
In addition to stimulus payments and unemployment compensation, the bill addresses needs in other areas as well. It expands the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with major impacts to Pennsylvanians. The Keystone Research Center estimates that:
- A 45-year-old individual with an income of $60,000 would see her monthly premium go down $89 from $514 to $425.
- As a couple, two sixty-year-olds with an income of $75,000 would drop $1,402, from $1,933 to $531 per month.
- A family of four with an income of $120,000 would its premium drop $605 from $1,455 to $850 per month.
- A 60-year-old with an income of $55,000 would see his premiums drop by $527 a month from $917 to $390 for a silver plan per month. A low-cost bronze plan would drop by $535 a month from $634 to $99. A low-cost gold plan would drop by $497 a month from $841 to $344.
- In addition, 26% of the uninsured in PA (96,216 people) are now eligible for a free bronze-level plan or a low-cost silver plan with a very low deductible.
The American Rescue Plan also expands the child tax credit, giving low income families up to $3,600 per child under the age of 6 and up to $3,000 for children up to 18. In Pennsylvania,
- 892,000 children under 17 who were left out of the full $2,000 Child Tax Credit would now benefit.
- 140,000 children under the age of 18 would be lifted above poverty.
- 311,000 children under 18 would be lifted above or close to the poverty line.
- 90% of children under 18 would benefit from the expansion.
Further, the ARP increases food assistance benefits; provides $20 billion to local and state governments to help with rent, $10 million for mortgages; expands the earned income tax credit; and funds loan programs for small businesses.
“Recovery from COVID goes beyond simply ending mitigation efforts. To fully recover, we have to invest in working people and families,” said Senator Costa. “We have lost a lot in the past year and the programs created and funded by the American Rescue Plan will help us rebuild an economy that works for everyone.”
President Joe Biden has indicated that he will sign the bill on Friday.