U.S. House of Representatives Passes the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to Provide Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic

(March 10, 2021 – Washington, DC) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This legislative package provides additional emergency relief funds to our Nation in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Puerto Rico is fully included. This stimulus has $1.9 trillion in federal funding to address the American people’s needs amid this public health and economic crisis. The legislation includes aid for vaccinations and testing, funding for state and local governments, schools, rental assistance, agriculture, and the airline industry, as well as tax-related provisions and additional business relief funding.  

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes many provisions that will benefit Puerto Rico as the Island continues to battle COVID-19. Specifically, it has several changes to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) programs. All Puerto Rican families are eligible for CTC in the amount of $3,600 for each child younger than 6 and $3,000 for other qualifying children. This legislation would also repeal the three-child limit for Puerto Rico so that this CTC can apply to families with less than three children. Puerto Rico will receive approximately $700 million a year for the next 10 years. With regards to EITC, the bill includes language that will allow Puerto Rico to expand its existing EITC program while the U.S. will provide a match equal to three times the cost to Puerto Rico, this means that the island will receive $612 million additional funds for the next 10 years.  

Additionally, this legislation would provide $900 million for Puerto Rico’s Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP per its English acronym), which serves approximately 851,552 low-income families on the Island and has approximately 1.5 million participants. Furthermore, Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program will receive funding for vaccination and COVID-19 testing, tracing, and monitoring as part of a National plan to advance these initiatives.

This legislation includes an additional round of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) of $1,400 per individual with a phase-out threshold. Under this bill, single filers with incomes up to $75,000, head of households with incomes up to $112,500, and joint filers with incomes up to $150,000 will receive the full payment of $1,400. The stimulus payment will be completely phased-out for single filers making $80,000, head of households’ filers making $120,000, and joint filers making $160,000. An additional $1,400 will be paid for dependent children under these rules, and qualifying dependents include full-time students under the age of 24 and adult dependents.

The bill includes an extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the $300-per-week unemployment benefits that were set to expire on March 14, 2021 and now is extended to September 6, 2021. This language also includes an amendment to make the first $10,200 of 2020 unemployment benefits not subject to federal income tax. Additionally, Puerto Rico will participate equally in the expanded Employee Retention Credit (ERC) program. Under the ERC, employers whose business operations were fully or partially suspended by the COVID-19 shutdown or experienced a decline in gross receipts over 2019 are eligible to receive a refundable federal tax credit of up to 70 percent of 10,000 wages paid to employees per quarter. 

This stimulus legislation will also provide an estimate of $2.4 billion to Puerto Rico to help defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects. Additionally, it includes $7 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) program and expands eligibility for PPP loans to a broader sphere of nonprofit entities and internet publishing organizations. 

The American Rescue Plan also includes $305 million in federal funding for Puerto Rico and the territories in rental assistance and $40 million in homeowner’s aid to individuals struggling to afford their housing by providing direct assistance with mortgage payments, property taxes and insurance, utilities, and other housing-related costs. Additionally, it extends the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Paid Leave Credits through September 30, 2021, and provides $170 billion to the U.S. Department of Education, which will be tasked with distributing these funds to assist with K-12 schools and universities. 

“I thank Congress for taking a bold step forward in passing the America Rescue Plan to help our Nation as we continue to grapple with the effects of this pandemic. This legislation includes the necessary provisions so that Puerto Rico continues to recover from the effects COVID-19 has had in our economy and quality of life. We have fought hard to ensure that our people receive equal treatment and access to necessary resources and provisions in this bill. Now, with this historic legislation, we can put dollars into working families’ pockets, while also directing funds to the sectors of our economy that have been bearing the brunt of this crisis,” stated Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi. 

“When President Biden and Vice-President Harris arrived at the White House, our Nation was confronting the worst pandemic in modern history; in the past year, we have lost many to the COVID-19 virus, and under their leadership we have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel. President Biden made a promise to Americans, and today he delivered,” he concluded. 

“Today marks the beginning of our Nation’s journey to end the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank Congress for passing the American Rescue Plan; this legislation will provide our Island the necessary resources to continue strengthening and bolstering our response to the pandemic. PRFAA will continue to work with the Biden-Harris Administration, Congress, and federal agencies to ensure that our people have equal access to all provisions included in the legislation during this pandemic,” stated PRFAA’s Executive Director, Carmen M. Feliciano. 


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