REGION — The House of Representatives recently passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and some North County cities could see additional funding if signed into law.
The bill passed the House along party lines, 219-212, with Congressman Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) voting in favor. Two Democrats voted against the bill, which is now before the Senate for a vote as early as Friday or early next week, according to Eric Mee, communications director for Levin.
According to a press release from Levin, the bill will pour in $350 billion for states, localities, U.S. territories and tribal governments “to help keep critical workers on the job.” Millions of dollars will also be sent to North County cities to help cover the costs of pandemic relief.
The estimated funding for cities in the 49th Congressional District includes $33,412,000 for Oceanside; $26,675,000 to Vista; $13,376,000 going to Carlsbad; $8,878,000 for Encinitas; $8,876,000 to San Clemente; $6,759,000 for San Juan Capistrano; $6,320,000 for Dana Point; $2,502,000 to Solana Beach; and $812,957 for Del Mar.
“I’m also glad that smaller cities in my District will finally receive the federal funding they need to keep public servants on the jobs and maintain essential services,” Levin said via the release. “I hope the Senate passes this bill quickly so we can get this relief to the American people as soon as possible. Then we must turn our attention to long-term economic recovery that creates jobs by investing in our infrastructure, combatting the climate crisis, and more.”
In May 2020, mayors from nine cities in North and Orange counties released a joint statement calling for more resources.
“We have worked day and night throughout this crisis to maintain critical public services and protect the health, safety, and economic security of our people,” the statement reads. “As the pandemic erodes our traditional sources of local revenue, we have risen to the occasion to serve the individuals and families who call our cities home. We need the federal government to step up.
“We are calling on Congress and the President to provide direct aid to our cities in order to offset lost revenues and unexpected costs during this unprecedented time. The health and well-being of our people depend on it.”
The bill also includes funding to strengthen vaccination efforts, help schools reopen safely, support small businesses, enhanced unemployment benefits, housing and nutrition assistance, and distribute $1,400 in direct payments to $1,400 direct payments for single filers with incomes up to $75,000, head of household filers with incomes up to $112,500, and joint filers with incomes up to $150,000.
As for schools, nearly $130 billion is allocated to help K-12 schools reopen safely, Levin said. Nearly $40 billion for institutions of higher education is to help make up for lost revenue due to the pandemic.
The bill also dedicates: $26 billion in rental assistance; $21.2 billion for emergency rental and utility assistance and help rental property owners of all sizes continue to cover their costs; $5 billion for emergency vouchers to transition those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking to stable housing; $10 billion for the Homeowner Assistance Fund that allocates funds to address homeowners struggling to afford their housing with direct assistance for mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and other housing-related costs; makes the child tax credit fully refundable for 2021 and increases the annual amount from the current $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6); and provides $39 billion through the Child Care and Development Block Grant for childcare providers as the country reopens and provides financial relief for families struggling to cover tuition.
The legislation also extends the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) maximum benefits by 15 percent through September 30, 2021, and provides $1.1 billion in additional SNAP administrative funds to states to help meet the demand of increased caseloads.
For small businesses, the bill would allocate $7.25 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and expands eligibility of 501(c) nonprofits of all sizes and types, except for 501(c)4 lobbying organizations.
It also provides $25 billion for a new program at the Small Business Administration to offer assistance to restaurants and bars with 20 or fewer locations that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Finally, $15 billion is for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advances to help those who applied for relief in 2020 but did not receive the full $10,000 grant.
“The coronavirus continues to have devastating health and economic consequences, and the American people urgently need this relief to make ends meet and beat the virus,” Levin said. “The American Rescue Plan includes more resources for schools so we can get kids back in the classroom quickly and safely. It includes $1,400 direct payments and other relief to help families make rent, feed their kids, and pay their bills. It includes funding to help small businesses survive and keep people on the job. And most importantly, it includes immediate investments in vaccine distribution to limit the spread of this virus and save lives.”