Today, the U.S. House passed the Senate version of the American Rescue Plan Act, which will provide economic relief to millions of Americans suffering from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a statement from Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms.
The passage of the American Rescue Plan today is a victory for women, especially women of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and low-income and middle-class families. It is the most progressive act passed since Medicare and Social Security, slashing childhood poverty in half by giving money directly to the families that need it most.
It recognizes the importance of women in the labor force, many of whom are essential workers, by providing $50 billion in assistance to stabilize child care providers. It gives child care providers the opportunity to apply for paycheck protection programs. We strongly encourage Congress to make the child tax credit permanent.
It also provides $130 billion for K-12 schools so that they can reopen safely for students, teachers and administrators. It provides nearly $40 billion to colleges and universities—50 percent of which must be used for emergency financial aid to college students. Furthermore, any student loans forgiven are not counted as taxable income.
It provides $25 billion in rental and housing assistance to millions of people, and it provides $5 billion in emergency vouchers for the unhoused, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking. These are just a few of the measures especially impacting working class women, particularly women of color, who have been the most adversely affected by the pandemic.
The Feminist Majority Foundation commends the Biden administration, the House, the Senate, and all the courageous lawmakers who fought to pass this legislation and am hopeful that this bill will act as a foundation to build upon in the months and years ahead.
The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-moving. During this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.