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American Rescue Plan is a big step closer to becoming law with Senate passage

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gives a thumbs up after the Senate passed the COVID-19 relief bill. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

AFSCME President Lee Saunders praised the Senate for passing the American Rescue Plan, which includes $350 billion in coronavirus relief aid to states, cities, towns and schools, among other much needed emergency support for America’s working families.

In the year since the pandemic began, nurses, first responders, public safety workers, child care providers, school personnel and myriad other public service workers have been on the front lines of the war against the virus, putting their lives at risk to keep their communities safe.

From the beginning, AFSCME has been calling on the federal government to fund the front lines to ensure that front-line workers, including many AFSCME members, have the resources they need to serve our communities and stay safe. Yet the Republican-led Senate and the Trump administration failed to meet the moment.

The situation is dramatically different following the election won by President Joe Biden. The Senate is now led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

“With a new president and new leadership in the United States Senate, help is finally on the way for these everyday heroes whose work and expertise are needed now more than ever to crush this virus,” Saunders said in a statement Saturday after the Senate approved the relief bill.  

The measure, which heads back to the House for final congressional approval and then to Biden for his signature, will offer real relief to families following a nearly unprecedented public health and economic crisis. Among other things, it will provide financial assistance to qualifying individuals and families in the form of $1,400 stimulus checks, child tax credits, unemployment insurance, student debt assistance, housing aid, and more.

The relief to states, cities, towns and schools comes after more than 1.3 million public service workers across the country have been thanked for their sacrifice with pink slips. The $350 billion in the bill will help communities across America maintain essential public services and save many more jobs.

“AFSCME members fought for the American Rescue Plan not just to beat COVID-19, but to jolt our economy by ensuring struggling families keep their health insurance and receive a boost in unemployment insurance as well as direct checks to help make ends meet,” Saunders said. “We thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and call on Congress to get a bill to President Biden’s desk, so we can finally fund the front lines.”

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