Congressional Action Updates

Congress passed the American Rescue Plan on February 27th, 2021. President Biden signed the bill into law on March 11, 2021.

In March, Representative Casten spoke on the House floor about what the American Rescue Plan (ARP) will mean for the tens of millions families struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on their kitchen tables, for the families of Americans killed by the virus, and for communities across Illinois who’ve suffered without adequate federal support. You can watch his full remarks here.

The American Rescue Plan:

Provides Direct Payments to Working Families & Expanding Child Tax Credit

  • Provides working families an additional direct payment of $1,400 Per Person – bringing the total relief payment to $2,000 per person; and
  • 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). 

Takes Aggressive Action to Speed Up COVID-19 Vaccinations and Contain the Virus

  • Provides over $20 billion to establish a national COVID-19 vaccination program and improve the administration and distribution of vaccinations; and

  • Provides $49 billion to expand testing, contact tracing, mitigation, and related activities.

Allocates the Resources Needed to Allow Schools to Safely Re-Open

  • Makes nearly $130 billion available to states and school districts for immediate and long-term relief so they can work with public health experts to safely re-open schools and make up for lost time in the classroom; and

  • Includes nearly $40 billion for institutions of higher education to help make up for lost revenue due to the pandemic.

Offers Immediate Economic Relief for Americans Hit Hardest

  • Extends the federal supplemental unemployment benefit through August 29 and increases the monthly supplemental benefit from the current $300 per month to $400 per month;

  • Extends both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program through August 29;

  • Significantly expands the subsidies in the ACA Marketplaces to cover more middle class families and to be more generous for those already receiving them, for 2021 and 2022.  Specifically, it removes the current cap that makes any family with income above 400% of the poverty level ineligible for any subsidies.  Under the bill, no one will have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for a silver plan in the ACA marketplaces;

  • Provides $26 Billion for Emergency Rental Assistance, to help ensure struggling families continue to have a safe place to live during this pandemic;

  • Provides $10 Billion to help homeowners struggling to afford their housing as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic; and

  • Provides $39 billion through the Child Care and Development Block Grant for child care providers as the country reopens and provides financial relief for families struggling to cover tuition.

Provides Support for Struggling Communities

  • Increases Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding and expanded eligibility to ensure it reaches nonprofits of all shapes and sizes;

  • Supports small businesses by providing $15 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program; and

  • Provides $350 billion for new coronavirus relief funds to help keep first responders, frontline health care workers, and other essential workers on the job.

Other Provisions

  • The bill provides a total of $27 billion for addressing health disparities and protecting vulnerable populations; and

  • Provides a total of $750 million for COVID-related research.


To learn more about these and many other provisions included in the American Rescue Plan, click here


Throughout the pandemic, Congress also passed:

  • The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act on March 5, 2020, to provide emergency funding for public health agencies and coronavirus vaccine research;

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18, 2020, to provide economic support to those in need, including unemployment benefits, increased Medicaid support, and paid sick leave for certain employees;

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020, to immediately bolster our health care response and our economy;

  • The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act on April 24, 2020, to provide economic support for small businesses and hospitals; and

  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021on December 27, 2020, to help mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.