On behalf of the OPCMIA’s 56,000 proud members, I want to thank President Biden, and the 220 U.S. Representatives and 50 U.S. Senators whose signature and votes, respectively, made the American Rescue Plan the law of the land.
This is an astonishing achievement that will profoundly and tangibly improve the lives of the American people, helping to ease the burden of the COVID pandemic, accelerate the end of the pandemic, create jobs, reduce poverty, feed families, and provide urgently-needed relief for all who are suffering. And it will have direct benefits for OPCMIA members.
Among its many achievements, the American Rescue Plan will:
- Send $1,400 checks per person per household for all individuals making under $75,000 and all married couples making under $150,000.
- Extend $300/week supplemental unemployment benefits through early September.
- Give families $3,600/year for each child up to age 5, and $3,000/year for children between the ages of 6 and 17.
- Provide tens of billions of dollars to accelerate COVID vaccine distribution, hire more public health workers, and expand COVID testing and contract tracing.
- Provide $86 billion to keep struggling multiemployer pension plans afloat and maintain benefits for union retirees.
- Provide $350 billion to states, cities, tribal governments and U.S. territories to ease crippling COVID-caused budget shortfalls and prevent additional layoffs.
- Dramatically lower the cost of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, enabling more Americans to gain health coverage, while paying 100 percent of COBRA health insurance premiums for those who have lost their jobs.
- Create a $10 billion infrastructure program to help local governments keep key projects funded and save jobs for our members and others in the building trades.
The impact of this will be historic in size. According to various analyses, the American Rescue Plan will:
- Raise the annual incomes of the least wealthy one-fifth of American households by more than 20 percent.
- Cut child poverty in half.
- Provide a family of four with one parent who works and another who is unemployed with an extra $12,460 in benefits so they can keep their homes and feed their families.
- Ensure that more than one million workers at risk of losing their pensions receive 100 percent of their promised retirement benefits for at least the next 30 years.
The dramatic positive impact of this bill demonstrates why it is so important that we elect officials who have our members’ backs. It is only because we helped elect President Biden, maintain a pro-worker majority in the House, and put a pro-worker majority in charge of the Senate that a bill of this historic scope could become law. As a result, most of our members will share in the broader benefits of the bill, such as the $1,400 stimulus checks and $3,000 child tax credit, while also gaining work opportunities through the infrastructure program and new protections for their retirement security.
Simply put, this is a great victory for OPCMIA members, all working families, and the United States of America.
Daniel E. Stepano