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Menendez & Booker Break Down the $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Bill Approved By the Senate

Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker released the following press release, outlining how New Jerseyans will benefit from the $1.9 trillion, American Rescue Plan which passed the United States Senate last week.

MENENDEZ, BOOKER RELEASE DETAILS OF AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) released the following breakdown of how New Jerseyans will benefit from the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that passed the U.S. Senate:

CLICK HERE to read Sen. Menendez’s full statement.

CLICK HERE to read Sen. Booker’s full statement.

Stimulus Checks

o   $1400 direct payments to individuals making less than $75,000 or couples making less than $150,000 and each of their dependent children, phased out to earners up to $80,000/$160,000

o   On top of $600 checks approved in December, fulfilling the promise of $2000 per person

o   Unlike previous rounds, adult dependents would be eligible for payments

o   Citizen spouses and children living in mixed-status families are also eligible

Unemployment Insurance (UI)

o   Emergency pandemic UI programs due to lapse Mar. 14 will be extended to Sept. 6, not Aug. 29, as in the House version of the bill

o   Extends $300 federal weekly enhanced benefit through Sept. 6

o   Makes first $10,200 of UI tax-free income for individuals earning up to $150,000

o   Freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors eligible

Vaccines/Testing

o   $14 billion for vaccines

o   $49 billion for testing, contact tracing, genomic sequencing to track new variants, and monitoring of COVID-19

o   $7.6 billion to hire 100,000 public health workers to administer vaccines and support the pandemic response

State/Local Assistance

o   $350 billion in direct, flexible aid to every state, county and municipal government, modeled after Sen. Menendez’s SMART Act, to help cover increased costs and lost revenues due to the pandemic, while keeping essential public workers on the job and maintaining critical services for residents

o   An estimated $9.3 billion for New Jersey, including approximately $6.4 billion for the state and $2.9 billion combined to each county and municipality

Small Business Assistance

o   New Jersey has seen a 42% drop in small business revenue since Jan. 2020

o   $25 billion targeted assistance for hard-hit restaurants, bars and eateries based on the RESTAURANT Act, championed by Sen. Menendez

o   $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and second-draw PPP loans

o   $15 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance grants

o   $10 billion for the State Small Business Credit Initiative

o   $1.25 billion in grants for shuttered concert and stage venues

o   Includes a provision championed by Sen. Menendez to assist pension plans supported by community newspapers

o   Extends the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) through the end of 2021 to provide a maximum $14,000 payroll tax credit per employee to help keep employees on payroll at struggling businesses

Schools/Child Care

o   $128.55 billion to safely reopen K-12 schools, upgrade ventilation systems, reduce class size, implement social distancing, purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), hire more staff and avoid teacher layoffs; included $2.75 billion for non-public schools

o   $39.58 billion for higher education, requiring colleges to use at least half the money they receive to provide emergency financial aid for students

o   $7.172 billion to help provide internet connectivity and devices to students so they can participate in online learning

o   $24 billion for an emergency stabilization fund to help child care providers to pay staff, rent, purchase PPE and supplies

o   $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program to help child care providers provide financial relief for families help struggling to pay the cost

o   $1 billion for Head Start

o   Expands the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit so that working families can receive up to $4,000 for the child care expenses of one child and $8,000 for two or more kids

Housing Assistance

o   $100 million for Neighborworks to support housing counseling services, modeled after Sen. Menendez’s Coronavirus Housing Counseling Improvement Act

o   $21.5 billion for rental assistance

§  An estimated over $400 million for New Jersey

§  Nearly 400,000 New Jerseyans report being behind on their rent and over 2 million or 32% of New Jerseyans report having difficulty paying household expenses

o   $10 billion for mortgage assistance

o   $5 billion for emergency Housing Choice Vouchers for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking

o   $5 billion for homelessness funding distributed through the HOME program formula

o   $20 million to support U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fair housing initiatives

o   $4.5 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

o   $500 million to a new water assistance program modeled after LIHEAP to help low-income families pay water bills that was created in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act passed in December

Nutrition Assistance

o   $880 million for the Special Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants and Children (WIC)

o   Extends 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program through Sept. 30

o   Extends the Pandemic EBT program that provides nutrition assistance funds in lieu of reduced-price and free meals for students during both the school year and the summer

o   510,000 or 9% of New Jersey adults have reported not having enough to eat

Health Care

o   Includes Sen. Menendez’s provision to permanently restore the imputed rural floor that creates parity in Medicare payments for hospitals in so-called “all-urban” states, unlocking millions in federal funding for New Jersey hospitals on the frontlines of the pandemic

o   Includes Sen. Menendez’s provision to provide $150 million for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program to provide staffing, services and supplies for in-home or virtual visits

o   $7.6 billion for Community Health Centers (CHCs)

o   $10 billion in Defense Production Act (DPA) spending to meet the need for medical supplies and PPE

o   $35 billion to make Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan premiums more affordable

o   100% COBRA premium assistance for laid-off workers on employer plans through September

o   Includes a provision based on Sen. Booker’s MOMMIES Act that extends Medicaid coverage for women for 12 month postpartum for five years

o   100% Medicaid coverage for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments with zero cost to patients and fully covers vaccines for one year after the COVID-19 public health emergency ends

o   Includes a provision based on Sen. Booker’s Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents and Workers During COVID-19 Act that provides $500 million for strike teams in skilled nursing facilities

o   $200 million for infection control in skilled nursing facilities

o   Over $3.5 billion for behavioral and mental health services

o   Nearly $10 billion in additional support for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services

o   $50 million for the Title X program

o   $100 million in environmental justice grants to address health outcome disparities from pollution and COVID-19

Transportation

o   $30.5 billion for transit agencies, including $1.5 billion for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program that is funding replacement of the Portal Bridge

o   $1.7 billion for Amtrak, including $970 million for the Northeast Corridor (NEC)

o   $8 billion to support airport operations

o   $15 billion to support airline industry workers

Misc. Tax Credits

o   Includes Sen. Menendez’s Student Loan Tax Relief Act that makes all forgiven student loan debt tax-free

o   Includes the American Family Act, co-led by Sen. Booker, that overhauls the existing Child Tax Credit (CTC) an make it a dramatically more effective tool for supporting middle-class families with kids and reducing poverty

§  Expands the CTC to $3,600 for each child under six and $3,000 for children under 18, which will benefit an addition 560,000 children in New Jersey

·        Fully refundable for low-income parents

·        Families can receive monthly payments instead of annual lump sum

·        Estimated to lift 10 million children out of poverty, including an estimated 89,000 in New Jersey, 2.3 million Black children, 4.1 million Latino children

o   Largest expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers without children in over a decade

§  Nearly triples the maximum credit

§  Extends eligibility to 17 million more low-income workers under 25 without children

§  Minimum age to claim childless credit dropped to 19 from 25; upper age limit eliminated

§  Would put more money in the pockets of 354,000 New Jersey workers struggling to get by

Veterans

o   $14.8 billion for Veterans Affairs (VA) health care

o   $750 million for state veterans homes

o   $386 million for rapid retraining of unemployed veterans

o   $272 million for VA claims and appeals processing

o   $100 million for VA supply chain modernization efforts

o   $10 million for the VA Office of Inspector General to provide oversight

o   $1 billion to cover waiver of VA co-pays for treatment provided to eligible veterans

Consumer Protection

o   $30.4 million to help the Federal Trade Commission crack down on COVID-related scams

Support for Farmers of Color

o   Includes the Emergency Relief for Farmer of Color Act, co-led by Sen. Booker, that provides more than $5 billion in debt relief and assistance for farmers of color who have faced widespread and longstanding discrimination and have seen disproportionate impacts from the pandemic

o   Historic first step towards addressing decades of hurt experienced by Black farmers and farmers of color due to discrimination

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