The American Rescue Plan Act passed by the Senate is heading to the House for a final vote with NEA’s top priorities intact. The bill provides $170 billion in dedicated education funding to advance the process of safely returning to in-person instruction at K-12 school buildings. At the higher education level, the funding can be used to provide institutional and student support to address the health, safety, and financial challenges created by COVID-19. An additional $350 billion in state and local aid will help avoid further layoffs of educators and other essential public servants. The bill also provides $7 billion in emergency funding for the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program to address the “homework gap” and students’ lost opportunities to learn.
Other provisions include funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to test, track, and vaccinate people; larger Affordable Care Act premium subsidies; and extending supplemental unemployment benefits through early October.
Unfortunate changes made by the Senate include eliminating the proposed increase in the federal minimum wage—from $7.25 to $15 per hour by 2025—and shrinking $1,400 checks to zero more quickly for individuals making over $75,000 and married couples making over $150,000. The Senate bill also includes a $2.75 billion set-aside for private schools. Democrats aim to enact the American Rescue Plan Act before March 14, when unemployment benefits for more than 11 million workers begin to expire.
Urge your representative to support the American Rescue Plan Act, with $170 billion to ensure safe and just schools for all students—from kindergarten to college.