Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, released the following statement after the final passage of H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act, was passed in the House today:
“H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act, is a landmark, life-saving legislation that will provide urgently-needed resources to defeat the virus, put vaccines in people’s arms, money into families’ pockets, children safely back into classrooms and people back to work. This legislation will now go to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
“This week is one of great progress and promise for Virgin Island families, communities and small businesses, as I joined my fellow Democrats to pass the American Rescue Plan and send it to President Biden’s desk for final signature. With tens of millions of Americans infected, more than half a million lives lost, over 18 million Americans unemployed, millions hungrier, and food and housing insecure, the people of the Virgin Islands can be assured that ‘Help Is On The Way,’ thanks to Democrats’ tireless work to enact this historic legislation.
“The Biden American Rescue Plan will save lives and livelihoods:
- Put Vaccines in Arms: The plan will mount a national vaccination program that includes setting up community vaccination sites nationwide and addressing disparities facing communities of color. It will also take complementary measures to combat the virus, including scaling up testing and tracing, addressing shortages of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies, investing in high-quality treatments and addressing health care disparities.
- Put Money in People’s Pockets: The plan finishes the job on the President’s promise to provide $2,000 in direct assistance to households across America with checks of $1,400 per person, following the $600 down payment enacted in December. The plan will also provide direct housing assistance, nutrition assistance for 40 million Americans, expand access to safe and reliable child care and affordable health care, extend unemployment insurance so that 18 million American workers can pay their bills and support 27 million children with an expanded Child Tax Credit and more than 17 million low-wage workers through an improved Earned Income Tax Credit.
“The American Rescue Plan is strongly supported by a large majority of the American people – including 60 percent of Republicans – bipartisan state and local leaders, national education groups, trade unions, advocacy organizations, and hundreds of businesses and chambers of commerce. Economists agree that the American Rescue Plan’s targeted, evidence-based action is needed – both for struggling families and for the American economy. The legislation’s provisions will generate $1.25 for every $1 of spending, will cut child poverty in half and will lift nearly 12 million people out of poverty.
“I am proud to note the inclusion of provisions in this bill for the Virgin Islands that I have been fighting for since I came to Congress. This plan creates equality in the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit for the Virgin Islands, including an advancement of the Child Tax Credit in 2021. The reimbursement of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit will save the Virgin Islands government more than $20 million annually. This legislation provides for a permanent federal reimbursement to the Virgin Islands for the cost of these federal tax benefits, and for educating preparers to encourage more workers to elect the tax credits. This will be very important to raise wages, reduce poverty, and improve the economic standing of low-income Americans in the Virgin Islands as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill also includes a direct federal fiscal transfer of $567 million to the government of the Virgin Islands to respond to the public health emergency and address the negative economic impacts of this pandemic. It is our hope that the Governor and Virgin Islands Legislature will use this exponential amount.
“Thanks to Congressional Democrats’ decisive action, the American Rescue Plan will make a real difference to protect the lives and livelihoods of Virgin families, small businesses and all Americans. As this life-saving, jobs-creating bill is signed into law, I will keep working with my colleagues on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands and all Americans to meet this moment as we continue to advance progress to ‘Build Back Better for the People.’”