Charlie Crist

02/26/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/26/2021 18:58

Crist Statement on American Rescue Plan

Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) released a statement on H.R.1319, the American Rescue Plan. The bold, robust COVID relief legislation, which is expected to pass tonight, is aimed at delivering help directly to American families, workers, small businesses, and communities struggling at the hands of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Biden's American Rescue Plan has been championed by Congressman Crist, as America recently noted the tragic milestone of over 500,000 Americans killed by the virus, including more than 31,000 Floridians.

The historic, $1.9 trillion legislative package - second only to the CARES Act - includes landmark, life-saving funding to deliver on the President's promise of securing relief for the millions in communities across the nation who are suffering as a result of the public health and economic crises caused by the virus.

The legislation includes many of the legislative priorities Congressman Crist has fought for since the beginning of the pandemic including another round of stimulus checks, extension of federal unemployment benefits and the eviction moratorium, and direct funding for smaller cities like St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park. The plan will provide an estimated $10.31 billion to the State of Florida and $189 million for Pinellas County. To keep classrooms open and safe, the American Rescue Plan also invests an estimated $187 million to Pinellas County Schools. The package includes additional assistance to support jobs and targeted relief for restaurants hit the hardest. And additionally provides $20 billion to rise to the challenge of vaccinating every American who wants it for free and $51 billion for testing, tracing, and mitigation to help eradicate the virus and get back to normal.

'No nation has been hit harder from the pandemic than the United States. But at the same time, no nation is better prepared to rise to meet the immense challenges facing our people. The richest nation in the history of the world can and must help our people during this pandemic. The toll has been immense and indescribable: over half a million lives lost, including over 31,000 of my fellow Floridians; 30 million confirmed infected; tens of millions laid off and millions still out of work; hundreds of thousands of cherished small businesses shuttered; long lines for food; and the intangible toll social distance takes on everyday Americans with increased mental health challenges, substance abuse, domestic violence, and suicide.

'Still, I remain optimistic. The American people are strong and resilient. And we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. 50 million vaccines have been administered with hundreds of millions more on the way. And under President Biden's leadership, the People's House will answer the call for the relief so many Americans have been desperately praying for. Just as with the CARES Act, we are acting to meet the depth of the moment and lift Americans in crisis. We must not turn our backs on those hit the hardest.

'For all the families, small businesses, teachers, healthcare workers, students, essential workers, parents, and unemployed folks who have been impacted by the coronavirus, help is on the way. It's my duty as your representative in Congress to deliver comprehensive relief and get our country back on track. The American Rescue Plan will do just that. Democrats, Independents, and Republicans across our land support the American Rescue Plan - showing that this is not about right vs. left, but rather right vs. wrong. Let's do the right thing. Let's get this done!'

Importantly the American Rescue Plan:

  • Provides direct assistance to Americans with stimulus checks of $1,400 per person;
  • Extends and expands unemployment insurance by providing a $400 per week federal supplement, in addition to state benefits;
  • Raises the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, and provides emergency paid leave;
  • Provides $26 billion in rental assistance: $21.2 billion for emergency rental and utility assistance to states, territories, counties, and cities to help stabilize renters during the pandemic, and help rental property owners of all sizes continue to cover their costs and $5 billion to help states and localities secure housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness;
  • Extends the 15 percent SNAP benefit increase, and invests $800 million in WIC to help women, infants and children access high-quality nutritious foods;
  • Provides nearly $130 billion to help K-12 schools safely reopen, and nearly $40 billion to help institutions of higher education provide emergency financial aid grants to students;
  • Features $7.25 billion in Paycheck Protection Program funding for businesses and nonprofits;
  • Creates a $25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund to offer aid to bars and restaurants with 20 or fewer locations;
  • Contains $350 billion in emergency funding for state and local governments to ensure they can keep front line public workers on the job and paid, and distribute the vaccine, scale up testing, reopen schools, and maintain vital services;
  • Includes $20 billion for a national vaccination program in partnership with states, localities, and Tribes;
  • Features $51 billion for the expansion of testing, including funds for rapid tests, expanded lab capacity, and to help communities implement testing and mitigation;
  • Expands the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under 6), making it fully refundable, and allowing for monthly advance payments beginning in July - cutting child poverty in America in half - and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for 15 million low-income workers;
  • And makes health insurance more affordable by capping premiums at 8.5% of income, maxing out Affordable Care Act subsidies for unemployed workers, providing an 85% COBRA subsidy, and providing valuable incentives for holdout states like Florida to expand Medicaid.