****Updated 3/11/21 3:30pm****
President Biden signed his $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill into law today — on the first anniversary of the pandemic. The American Rescue Act unleashes $1.9 trillion in federal aid to help hard hit Americans, small businesses, and state and local governments. President Biden called the bill’s enactment “a historic victory for the American people.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the American Rescue Act is “the most consequential piece of legislation we’ll ever be party to in our lifetimes.” It fulfills a promise President Biden made to the American people to provide substantial relief to a country still reeling from the COVID pandemic – and seeking to get back on its feet as quickly as possible.
“The signing of this landmark legislation is a great moment for all Americans who have struggled to survive and stay financially afloat during this pandemic, especially seniors, people with disabilities, and their families.” – Max Richtman, president and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
The President’s COVID relief package gives seniors’ health and economic security a much-needed boost. Millions of Social Security beneficiaries will be eligible for $1,400 stimulus payments to keep their heads above water financially. The legislation also contains crucial new funds for vaccinations, testing, and safer nursing home care.
The American Rescue Act includes $12.6 billion in additional federal Medicaid payments that states can use to expand home and community-based services (HCBS), where exposure to COVID is minimal compared to nursing homes.
The COVID relief legislation adds $4.5 billion for LIHEAP, the federally-funded program that helps keep low-income seniors’ homes heated and cooled — and invests more than $1.4 billion to strengthen critical programs for older adults — including nutrition assistance (such as Meals on Wheels), vaccination support, and caregiver support —under the Older Americans Act and the Elder Justice Act, among other provisions.
The American Rescue Act is the polar opposite of the Trump/GOP tax cuts in 2017, which mostly benefited the wealthy and large corporations. President Biden’s legislation actually helps those on the bottom and middle of the economic ladder the most. It is a ‘bottom up’ strategy for rebuilding the economy versus the failed ‘trickle down’ approach of Republicans from Reagan to Trump.
The National Committee salutes President Biden for his steely determination to enact this legislation, along with House committee chairs Rep. Richard Neal (Ways & Means), Rep. Frank Pallone (Energy & Commerce), and Senator Ron Wyden (Finance committee chair). We also thank Rep. Debbie Dingell for championing the HCBS provisions of the bill.
The bill passed the House on Wednesday with zero Republican support, despite public polling that shows some 75% of Americans across party lines support the package as whole. It now goes to President Biden for signature. He is expected to sign the American Rescue Act by Friday. In so doing, President Biden and Congressional Democrats will have enacted one of the most far-reaching, most compassionate pieces of legislation to help seniors and other everyday Americans since the Great Society.