President Biden Proposes Large COVID-19 Rescue Plan: Abstract And Outlook – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

United States:

President Biden Proposes Massive COVID-19 Rescue Plan: Summary And Outlook

21 January 2021

Holland & Knight

To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on


  • President Joe Biden has proposed a
    $1.9 trillion package of policies to address the healthcare,
    economic and societal harms caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The plan includes new leave
    requirements on employers, a $15 federal minimum wage and an
    additional $1,400 in direct assistance to individuals among other
    relief to workers and families; additional funding for COVID-19
    vaccination, testing and prevention; additional aid to small
    businesses and local, state and tribal governments; and measures to
    address recent cybersecurity attacks against the U.S. government by
    modernizing and securing federal information and technology.
  • Although the plan includes certain
    executive actions, the vast majority of proposals are dependent on
    Congress enacting legislation. President Biden has indicated his
    preference to enact the package through regular order, requiring
    bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. However, Democrats in
    Congress are laying plans to pass the package through budget
    reconciliation should bipartisan negotiations break down.

President Joe Biden has proposed an “American Rescue
Plan,” which was described as an “emergency legislative
package to fund vaccinations, provide immediate, direct relief to
families bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, and support
struggling communities.” The plan, announced on Jan. 14, 2021,
includes four main categories of proposals:

  • supporting a COVID response plan by
    mounting a national vaccine program containing the spread of
    COVID-19 and safely reopening schools
  • delivering immediate relief to
    working families bearing the brunt of the crisis
  • supporting communities that are
    struggling in the wake of COVID-19
  • modernizing federal information
    technology (IT) to protect against future cyberattacks

The plan is a $1.9 trillion package to address the healthcare,
economic and societal harms of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as
recent cyberattacks against the U.S. government. Although the
current plan is limited on details, it is likely to be expanded
upon and subject to negotiations on Capitol Hill in the weeks
ahead. This Holland & Knight alert summarizes the plan’s
proposals and outlines the legislative path forward.

COVID-19 Response and Healthcare Measures

The American Rescue Plan urges Congress to approve $415 billion
in emergency spending to establish a national vaccination program,
increase reimbursement for vaccines, expand testing and invest in
domestic manufacturing of certain pandemic-related medical
supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE). If
approved, it would represent the federal government’s biggest
investment in public health efforts to address the pandemic. These
provisions include the following:

  • $50 billion to expand the
    nation’s coronavirus testing efforts, including funding for
    purchasing rapid tests, increasing lab capacity, and implementing
    regular testing for schools and local governments
  • $30 billion for the federal Disaster
    Relief Fund to help ensure that the United States has sufficient
    supplies and protective gear, as well as provide state and local
    governments and tribes with 100 percent federal reimbursement for
    critical emergency response resources, including National Guard
    deployment (this effort would be in addition to President
    Biden’s commitment to using the Defense Production Act to
    produce more supplies)
  • $20 billion in a national vaccination
    program in partnership with states, localities, tribes and
    territories, with the aim of 100 million vaccinations by the end of
    Biden’s first 100 days
  • $20 billion for veterans’
  • $10 billion to boost domestic
    manufacturing of pandemic supplies
  • $4 billion to the Substance Abuse and
    Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Health
    Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand access to
    mental health and substance abuse services
  • $800 million to help survivors of
    domestic violence
  • the recruitment of 100,000 public
    health workers to conduct vaccine outreach and contact tracing in
    the immediate term; in the long run, the roles would transition
    into community health roles
  • ensure that vaccines and supplies are
    distributed equitably and expand healthcare services for
    underserved communities by opening more community health centers
    and investing in health services on Native American land
  • increase the Federal Medicaid
    Assistance Program (FMAP) to 100 percent coverage for the
    administration of vaccines
  • subsidize continuation health
    coverage (COBRA) for those who lose their employer-sponsored health
    insurance through Sept. 30, 2021
  • increase the value of the Premium Tax
    Credit used on individual health insurance exchanges to ensure that
    individuals pay no more than 8.5 percent of income for health
    insurance coverage
  • Biden also noted that his
    administration would work with states to identify priority groups
    for the vaccines, including those 65 and older and frontline
    workers; Biden also would use the Federal Emergency Management
    Agency (FEMA) to create 100 federally supported vaccination centers
    across the country

The plan does not include additional funding for the Provider
Relief Fund or other provider relief proposals. However, those
items could still be included in eventual legislation.

Relief to American Workers and Families

The plan also includes efforts to aid workers and families
through roughly $1 trillion in policies aimed at economic recovery.
These policies, costing roughly $1 trillion, would, according to
the Biden campaign’s summary, “[build] a bridge to
economic recovery for working families and, according to
researchers at Columbia University, cut child poverty in
half.” The American Rescue Plan calls on Congress to:

Establish a Worker Safety Standard and Increase Wages

  • Authorize the Occupational Safety and
    Health Administration (OSHA) to issue standards that cover a broad
    set of workers to protect against unsafe working conditions and
    retaliation, as well as provide additional OSHA funding
  • Increase the national minimum wage
    from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour
  • Call on employers to provide back
    hazard pay to essential frontline workers, including those in the
    retail and grocery sectors

Extend and Expand Emergency Worker Leave

  • Reinstate changes to the Emergency
    Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and Emergency Paid Sick
    Leave Act created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
    (FFCRA) and expand them to:

    • Apply to all employers instead of
      only those between 50 to 500 employees
    • Provide over 14 weeks of paid sick
      and family and medical leave to help parents with additional
      caregiving responsibilities when a child or loved one’s school
      or care center is closed, for people who have or are caring for
      others with COVID-19, or who are quarantining with exposure
    • Reimburse employers with fewer than
      500 employees, as well as state and local governments, for the cost
      of leave

Provide Checks to Individuals

  • Provide an additional $1,400 per
    person in direct financial assistance while also expanding
    eligibility to adult dependents and mixed-status households, as
    well as calling on the U.S. Department of the Treasury to deliver
    the earlier $1,200 direct payments under the CARES Act to families
    that did not receive them

Extend and Expand Unemployment Insurance

  • Increase supplemental Federal
    Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments from $300 per
    week to $400 per week in unemployment insurance benefits to help
    laid-off workers cover household expenses
  • Extend the availability of federal
    unemployment insurance benefits through September 2021
  • Allow for automatic adjustments to
    the length and amount of relief based on health and economic
    conditions in order to prevent reliance on legislation to reinstate
    benefits if economic and health conditions meet certain threshold
    requirements so that these supports are provided for the full
    duration of the pandemic (specific triggers are not discussed in
    the proposal)
  • Extend financial assistance for
    unemployed workers who typically do not qualify for unemployment
    compensation benefits (including self-employed and gig economy

Provide Housing Assistance

  • Extend the eviction and foreclosure
    moratorium and continues applications for forbearance on federally
    guaranteed mortgages until Sept. 30, 2021, to prevent evictions and
    loss of homes during the pandemic (the current CDC eviction
    moratorium is set to expire at the end of January)
  • Provide $30 billion in rental and
    energy and water assistance for families

    • Includes an additional $25 billion
      for the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program established by
      the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to assist renters and
      small landlords
    • $5 billion to cover home energy and
      water costs and arrears through programs such as the Low-Income
      Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Provide Food Aid to Address Hunger

  • An extension of the 15 percent
    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits increase
    through September 2021
  • $3 billion for the Special
    Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children
  • A partnership with restaurants to get
    food to families in need and assist laid-off restaurant
  • Temporarily cutting the state match
    for SNAP
  • $1 billion in additional nutrition
    assistance for Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of
    the Northern Mariana Islands

Provide Child Care Support

  • Provide $25 billion for an Emergency
    Stabilization Fund to help child care providers safely stay open or
    reopen after the pandemic
  • Provide an additional $15 billion in
    emergency funds for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
  • Increase for one year the size of the
    Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) as well as making the
    credit refundable so that lower-income families can access the

Provide Tax Relief for Families and Essential Workers

  • Expand temporarily the Earned Income
    Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers by increasing the size of
    the maximum credit, raising the income limit for the credit and
    expanding the eligible age range from 25-64 to 19-65 (excluding
    full-time students aged 19-24)
  • Expand temporarily the Child Tax
    Credit (CTC) to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under age 6)
    for one year while also making it fully refundable to expand access
    to 27 million children living in households that currently lack
    enough income to qualify; during this period, children aged 17
    would also qualify for the credit
  • Promote cash assistance through
    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) by providing an
    additional $1 billion in emergency funding for states to meet the
    needs of increased caseloads

Support to Small Businesses and Governments

With a stated goal to aid small businesses, protect educators,
public transit workers and first responders from layoffs, as well
as keep critical services running at full strength, the plan
proposes $440 billion to support communities through the following

Support to Small Businesses

  • $15 billion in “flexible,
    equitably distributed” grants to the hardest-hit small
  • $35 billion in small business
    financing programs, with the aim of leveraging it into $175 billion
    in lending and investment
  • Unspecified aid to restaurants, bars
    and other businesses that have suffered disproportionate harm to
    ensure they have sufficient support through federal aid programs,
    including the Commodity Credit Corporation of the U.S. Department
    of Agriculture

Support for State, Local and Tribal Governments

  • Call on Congress to provide $350
    billion in state, local and territorial funding, as well as $3
    billion in Economic Development Administration grants
  • $20 billion in relief for hard-hit
    public transit agencies, to maintain employment and transit routes
    for essential workers
  • $20 billion in direct funding to
    tribal governments for protective equipment, clean water,
    electricity, expanded internet access and other resources to reduce
    inequities related to COVID-19 transmission, hospitalizations,
    death and related economic effects

Federal Information Technology

While the bulk of the proposal addresses the effects of the
COVID-19 pandemic, it also includes measures to address recent
cybersecurity attacks against the U.S. government. President Biden
calls on Congress to modernize and secure federal information and
technology through the following measures:

  • $9 billion for the Cybersecurity and
    Information Security Agency (CISA) and General Services
    Administration (GSA) to launch new programs and complete existing
    IT modernization projects
  • $200 million for the IT Oversight and
    Reform fund for the hiring of experts to support the Chief
    Information Security Officer and U.S. Digital Service
  • $300 million in no-year funding for
    the GSA to secure IT projects without the need for agency
  • $690 million for CISA to increase
    cybersecurity across federal networks

The Legislative Path Ahead

Several of the COVID-19 relief provisions included in the
end-of-year Consolidated Appropriations Act will expire in March
2021. Accordingly, Congress will likely aim to pass another relief
bill before those provisions expire.

Given the slim Democratic majorities in Congress and the 60-vote
filibuster threshold that will likely continue to be required to
pass legislation in the Senate, any legislation will have two paths
to becoming law. They will either have to be passed through the
Senate’s budget reconciliation process (see Holland &
Knight’s previous alert, “Senate Elections Make Budget Reconciliation a
Potential Tool in 117th Congress,” Jan. 7, 2021) or create
a bill that would receive bipartisan support in the Senate to
advance by regular order. Although several Senate Republicans have
indicated support for further relief measures, Democrats in the
House and Senate have said they would be prepared to use budget
reconciliation to bypass a filibuster if needed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

POPULAR ARTICLES ON: Coronavirus (COVID-19) from United States

The Diligence Process For Privacy And Data Security

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

The rapid expansion of data security and privacy laws and regulations — both in the United States and internationally — harbors the potential for substantial liability, with the consequence…

Privacy And Data Security Worldwide: 2020 And Beyond

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

2020 has been a busy year in privacy law both domestically and around the globe. Some of the most striking developments included enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Comments are closed.