Congressman Panetta Supports Passage of Comprehensive COVID Relief

February 27, 2021
Press Release

Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) supported the House passage of H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan.  The legislation includes provisions to protect farmworkers from COVID, help children safely return to the classroom, improve nationwide vaccine access, extend federal unemployment benefits, provide $1,400 economic impact payments, and more.

Earlier this month, Congressman Panetta helped advance over half of the relief package following key mark-up sessions in the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Agriculture.  The committee action spanned multiple COVID-related issues including extending unemployment insurance, delivering more direct assistance to Americans, and supplying vaccines to communities across the country.  

The COVID relief package includes Congressman Panetta’s SOS Act, under which nursing strike teams are deployed to nursing homes and long-term care facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks to protect staff and those in their care. 

Moreover, Congressman Panetta successfully secured $3.6 billion in funding for farmworker protections and support food processors, distributors, and producers during the pandemic.

“As we approach a full year into this pandemic, our communities remain in undeniable need of comprehensive relief,” said Congressman Panetta.  “Following over 24 hours of hearings on the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Agriculture, I was able to secure $3.6 billion in federal funds to keep Central Coast farmworkers safe as well as include my SOS Act in the final package to protect our nation’s nursing homes from COVID outbreaks.”

“The American Rescue Plan This relief package will help families put food on the table, support farmworkers, help schools safely reopen, increase vaccine access, provide direct payments, extend unemployment benefits, and more.  The quicker we enact this bill, the faster our economy can recover, and the more Americans we can help keep healthy and safe.” 

Following today’s passage of the American Rescue Plan, the Senate will need to take up the legislation.  Reconciliation bills requires a majority vote to pass and are not subject to the Senate filibuster.  Upon the House and Senate passage and reconciling any differences, the legislation will go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

The American Rescue Plan includes the following provisions:

 

State and Local Aid

  • $350 billion to help state, local, tribal, and territorial governments pay for unbudgeted expenses related to the pandemic.
  • $26.3 billion for the State of California to respond to COVID, including an estimated:
    • $85 million to Monterey County
    • $53 million to Santa Cruz County
    • $12 million to San Benito County
    • $377 million to Santa Clara County

Tax Provisions

  • $1,400 payment for each taxpayer and each dependent.  Individuals with adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household, $150,000 for joint filers) will be eligible to receive the full amount.
  • Makes a robust investment in alleviating child poverty by increasing the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under 6).
  • Excludes Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants and Restaurant Revitalization grants from income, preventing unexpected tax burdens.

Health Provisions

  • Provides $250 million for “strike teams” to assist skilled nursing facilities and $200 million for infection control support at those facilities under Congressman Panetta’s SOS Act. 
  • $46 billion for testing and tracing activities. 
  • $8.5 billion for vaccine activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  • $7.66 billion to expand the public health workforce, including grants to state, local, and territorial health departments. 
  • $7.6 billion for community health centers. 
  • $6.09 billion for tribal health programs. 
  • $5.2 billion to support manufacturing and purchasing vaccines. 
  • $3.5 billion for block grant programs under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 
  • $1.8 billion for testing and mitigation activities in congregate settings, such as prisons, long-term care facilities, and residential treatment facilities. 
  • Provides $10 billion to use the Defense Production Act to purchase, produce, and distribute medical supplies and equipment related to COVID-19

Labor Provisions

  • Increases pandemic-related unemployment benefits to $400 per week, from $300, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, applying to weeks of unemployment after March 14 and through August 29. 
  • Increases the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour from $7.25 by 2025, starting with an increase to at least $9.50 in 2021. 
  • Provides $150 million for the Labor Department to carry out worker protection activities related to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Agriculture Provisions

  • Appropriates Panetta-secured $3.6 billion to the Agriculture Department to purchase and distribute food and agricultural commodities and to make grants and loans to small and midsized food producers, processors, distributors, and farmers markets for measures to protect workers from COVID-19.
  • $1.01 billion for grants and loans to improve land access for socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners, as well as scholarships, outreach, financial training, and other technical assistance. Hispanic-serving institutions, including those on the Central Coast, would be eligible for some of this funding. 
  • $800 million for commodities supplied in connection with dispositions under Title II of the Food for Peace Act.

Nutrition Provisions

  • Extends a 15% increase to monthly benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through September 30.
  • $1.15 billion to states for SNAP administration, as well as $1 billion for grants for nutrition assistance programs in U.S. territories.

Education Provisions

  • $128.6 billion for K-12 schools to address learning loss.
  • $39.6 billion for emergency financial aid grants at colleges, universities, and  postsecondary vocational programs.
  • $7.6 billion  to cover the purchase of broadband service and devices by schools and libraries.

Small Business Provisions

  • Increases the Paycheck Protection Program’s (PPP) lending authority by $7.25 billion, to $813.7 billion.
  • $25 billion for an SBA Restaurant Revitalization Fund, similar to the RESTAURANTS Act which Congressman Panetta co-introduced.  Eligible recipients would include restaurants, bars, food trucks, and caterers.

Housing Provisions

  • $19.1 billion for rental assistance payments through the Treasury Department.
  • $9.96 billion to establish a Homeowner Assistance Fund at the Treasury Department.
  • $5 billion for emergency Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.

Transportation Provisions

  • $30 billion for grants to transit agencies, which could use the money for operating expenses including payroll costs and purchasing personal protective equipment.
  • $1.5 billion for Amtrak in FY2021, increasing frequency of long-distance routes.
  • $8 billion in FY2021 for airports.

Pension Provisions

  • A multiemployer pension measure to establish a fund for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to provide financial assistance to struggling multiemployer pension plans. 
  • The assistance would cover all benefits due from the bill’s enactment through 2051, with generally no reduction to a beneficiary’s accrued benefits.

Veterans Affairs Provisions

  • $17 billion to the Department of Veterans Affairs, including: 
    • $13.5 billion for health care, which would include as much as $4 billion for the Veterans Community Care program. 
    • $750 million for State Veterans Homes. 
    • $272 million for claims and appeals processing. 
    • $100 million for supply chain modernization initiatives. 
  • $2 billion for the VA to waive health insurance copayments and other cost-sharing expenses incurred by veterans from April 6, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021. 
  • $386 million to create a rapid retraining program for veterans who are unemployed due to the pandemic and who haven’t received VA educational assistance or unemployment payments. 

Watch Congressman Panetta speak in support of the American Rescue Plan on the House floor here.

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