WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives today approved the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, historic legislation that responds to the ongoing health and economic crises caused by COVID-19. The bill, which President Biden is expected to sign into law, contains numerous provisions spearheaded by U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla. These include the extension of her pro-worker, pro-business employee retention tax credit through the end of 2021; provisions to help working families afford child care during the pandemic; and the permanent extension of the child tax credit and earned income tax credit to American citizens living in Puerto Rico, the biggest federal policy change toward the U.S. territory in a generation.
More generally, the bill significantly boosts funding for vaccine development and distribution; provides $1,400 economic support payments to eligible individuals; provides $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits through September 6, 2021; provides significant funding to help K-12 and college students return safely to the classroom, and provides about $17 billion to the Florida government, and its counties and major cities, so they can retain frontline workers, provide essential services, and avoid tax increases.
“Thanks to science and more than a year of sacrifices by the American people, we are nearing the end of the worst part of this global pandemic. It’s time for us to take strong action to ensure our country has a smooth economic recovery and Americans can return to work,” said Murphy. “This new COVID relief package focuses on uplifting families who have been most directly impacted by COVID-19 and getting shots into the arms of more people so Florida can fully and safely reopen. I will keep fighting to help Floridians who are still struggling as a result of this pandemic and make sure all of the funding in this bill is properly spent to help those who need it most.”
The House approved numerous other Murphy-led provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). They are listed below.
Murphy led the bipartisan effort to include the employee retention tax credit (ERTC), which provides financial support to businesses who retain or rehire workers, in the March 2020 CARES Act. She led the successful effort to expand the ERTC, and extend it through June 30, in the December 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act. ARPA extends the ERTC through the end of 2021. According to estimates, this provision will help businesses retain or rehire 13 million workers, rather than lay them off.
ARPA makes major improvements to the child tax credit (CTC), which will help about 4.5 million Florida families, and the earned income tax credit (EITC), which will help about 1.6 million Florida workers. Murphy helped lead the effort to treat Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories fairly under both credits on a permanent basis, a historic achievement.
ARPA enhances the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which will help millions of Florida families afford child care during the pandemic. The language in the final bill substantially mirrors language from a bipartisan bill that Murphy introduced, called the PACE Act.