The bill, which includes much-needed state and local aid, now goes to the Senate. NAR weighs in on the path to passage for the legislation.
The Senate this week will take up President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion bill that contains an array of coronavirus relief measures championed by the National Association of REALTORS®, after the House passed the legislation Saturday. Shannon McGahn, NAR’s chief advocacy officer, said in a statement Saturday that she expects the Senate to adopt the bill with most of the major provisions intact. “The White House is hoping for final passage by mid-March, when current unemployment benefits expire,” McGahn said.
The American Rescue Plan includes new aid for struggling state and local governments; the creation of a homeowners assistance fund and a small-business grant program; and a fresh round of funding for rental assistance, expanded unemployment, stimulus checks, vaccines, and COVID-19 testing. Other provisions include:
- $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans, phased out for higher earners
- An extension through Aug. 29, 2021, to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and an increase of Pandemic Unemployment Compensation from $300 to $400 weekly
- $20.3 billion in new money for rental assistance (on top of the $25 billion allocated in December)
- An extension of the eviction and foreclosure moratorium and forbearance for federally guaranteed mortgages through Sept. 30, 2021
- A one-year increase from $2,000 to $3,000 in the child tax credit
- Expanded Paid Sick and Family Leave through Sept. 30
- $10 billion for a Housing Assistance Fund that will allow state housing finance agencies to help homeowners with COVID-19 hardships
- $100 million for housing counseling services
- $15 billion for a new small business grant program
- $350 billion in state and local aid
- $130 billion for schools
“Perhaps the biggest component of this bill is state and local aid, which was left out of previous legislation,” McGahn said. “Nearly nine in 10 cities expect a budget shortfall this year. No local government could really prepare for something like what we have lived through the past year, and this new assistance was needed to keep our economic recovery from suffering a relapse.”
NAR sent a letter to Congressional leadership last week, making them aware of provisions in the bill that are important to REALTORS®: rental assistance, state and local aid, unemployment assistance, small-business relief, and an extension and expansion of credits for paid sick and family leave and employee retention. “The 1.4 million members of the National Association of REALTORS® thank you for your focus on rebuilding our economy, businesses, and families during and after this worldwide pandemic,” NAR’s letter reads. “The American Rescue Plan … has several provisions that will be essential to ensure Americans are safe, small businesses survive, and the economy recovers.”