Just as we marked the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, the biggest news this week came from President Biden when he signed the American Rescue Plan into law. The same day, Biden announced that all adults will be eligible for the COVID vaccine by May 1 with enough doses available for every adult by the end of May.
The goal of the plan is to get the virus under control quickly and jump-start the recovery effort. The plan is ambitious and it will have a dramatic impact on Iowans for years to come.
As soon as this weekend, Iowa families will have more money in their pockets with an additional $1,400 stimulus check per person. Full payment goes to single filers up to $75,000, head of household filers with incomes up to $112,500, and joint filers with incomes up to $150,000.
While stimulus checks have received most of the attention, there are a host of other measures that will make a difference for hard-working families in Iowa. Most importantly, the plan provides resources and tools to get kids back to the classroom safely.
Here are a few other highlights that will make a difference for Iowa families:
- Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit
- Increasing the child tax credit from $2,000/child to $3,000 ($3,600 for kids under 6)
- Extending unemployment benefits for those who have lost their job
- Housing & rental assistance to keep Iowans in their homes
- Expanding health care coverage and lowering costs
- Reducing child care costs
- Expanding mental health and substance abuse treatment
Another goal of the American Rescue Plan is to help small businesses recover and re-open. There is a new revitalization program for restaurants and bars that have struggled during the pandemic and new funding available to nonprofits as well. COVID-19 emergency grants will be available for businesses that didn’t receive a full grant last year and a new state small business credit initiative will help small businesses get back on their feet financially.
Here in Iowa, I expect the plan to give our farmers, growers, and producers a boost as well. There will be assistance available through the USDA to buy more commodities from farmers, support farmer’s markets, and strengthen the food supply chain.
I believe the American Rescue Plan will help us turn the page on the COVID crisis we are still facing today and rebuild Iowa’s economy in the long run. It’s got many of the same ideas we offered in the Iowa Legislature with Build Back Iowa.
There’s no question the last year has been a struggle for us all. Too many Iowans have died. Friends and neighbors have struggled with a loss of work or income. Parents lost child care and worked from home. Grandparents haven’t seen their grandkids for months while COVID ran through nursing homes.
With the hyper-partisan, divisive politics in DC these days, I’m glad that President Biden stayed focused to get COVID recovery and relief done quickly. It’s the leadership we need right now to beat COVID and bring us back together.
Help is on the way.