Op-Ed: American Rescue Plan

By Brenda Lawrence and Scott Benson

The American Rescue Plan, passed by the House and Senate in the past week and signed into law by President Joe Biden on Thursday, is a historic and unprecedented relief package that will help countless Americans, including low- and middle-income families, small business owners, students, parents, and workers.

There is no doubt the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus will have a massive impact on the families within our cities, especially those that have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The rescue package offers another stimulus check, $1,400 in direct-cash relief, to some Michiganders—or a smaller amount for higher-income earners—and a critical extension of unemployment benefits. It also makes the Child Tax Credit fully refundable and increases the amount to up to $3,600, depending on the child’s age. This transformational action will significantly improve the lives of families across the country and help cut child poverty in half. This is a huge deal.

The stimulus package is also the direct, urgent response that Michigan and our cities need by scaling up resources for testing, vaccines, and public healthcare. It will also rescue small businesses and restaurants with much-needed support, as well as help families keep a roof over their heads by providing rental and mortgage assistance. We cannot underscore enough the critical fiscal aid that provides a bridge over troubled waters allowing our municipalities, counties, and state to re-hire workers, avoid additional layoffs, and prevent further reductions of public services.

While we understand that the work is not finished, we believe some of these provisions can become permanent. We need to build on the $500 million that’s being allocated so that we can ensure no one in this nation will go without clean, safe, and affordable water.

This funding puts us on a much-needed path to improve America’s residential and municipal water pipe infrastructure. We are especially hopeful this relief package moves us a step closer to ending water shutoffs by creating a permanent Low-Income Sewerage and Water Assistance Program (LISWAP), similar to the permanently funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that ensures low-income families have energy and heat year-round.

The American Rescue Plan will help strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, reducing the numbers of uninsured Michiganders and making healthcare coverage more affordable and accessible for people who have been hardest hit by this pandemic. It further delivers relief to those who have disproportionately borne the brunt of this crisis, including women and people of color. The COVID relief bill provides funding for childcare, community health centers, broadband, schools and so much more to help our communities overcome the pandemic.

Promises made, promises kept. The American Rescue Plan is a big win for Detroit, Michigan, and Americans across the country.

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, a Democrat, represents Michigan’s 14th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Councilmember Scott Benson represents Detroit’s 3rd District, is the immediate Past President of the Democratic Municipal Officials, and a former member of the Democratic National Committee’s executive committee.

 

 

 

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