The following is a letter to the editor from U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH).
Our country is finally beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic. After a year in which our families and communities have been devastated, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan. This package will get more vaccines into arms, get our kids back to school, put people back to work, and get our economy moving again.
Many Granite Staters are already seeing the impact as vaccine access is improving and stimulus payments are arriving in bank accounts across New Hampshire. Individuals who are eligible are receiving up to $1,400 for the payments, plus $1,400 per child, including – for the first time – adult dependents. In addition, for those who have been laid off or had to leave the workforce as a result of the pandemic, the package extends expanded unemployment insurance through September 6, 2021.
As people across the country face the high costs of health care, this package will significantly reduce health insurance costs for many who purchase care through the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace. It also ensures that employees can retain their employer sponsored health insurance if they are laid off or face a reduction in hours by strengthening COBRA assistance – covering the entire cost of the employer-sponsored health care through September 2021.
To acknowledge the costs of raising children and the importance of children’s health and well-being, this package takes the significant step of expanding the child tax credit to $3,000 – or $3,600 for children under the age of 6. It further supports individuals and families in need by providing support for broadband, food assistance, and housing relief to help with both rent and mortgage payments. To get children back in schools, the package sends more than $120 billion to K-12 schools to promote safe in-person learning and address learning loss, and it includes an amendment I introduced to require schools receiving funds to develop and make public reopening plans.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve heard from small businesses across New Hampshire who have worked in many ways to adapt and keep their doors open. These small businesses will drive our economic recovery, but are still struggling right now. The American Rescue Plan includes vital tools to help these businesses pay their bills and lay a foundation to thrive as we reopen.
One priority that I worked to include in the American Rescue Plan will deliver relief for new small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship. The package includes my bipartisan legislation that will provide payroll assistance through the Employee Retention Tax Credit to new small businesses that started during the pandemic. Many new businesses have been left out of previous COVID-19 relief programs, but now, this provision will ensure that new businesses receive key support.
We also know that restaurants, live entertainment, and the performing arts have been some of the hardest-hit industries. We must ensure that these industries – which bring people together and create jobs – are able to survive beyond the pandemic. The relief package includes over $25 billion to provide specific assistance to the restaurant and hospitality industries. I also worked with colleagues from both parties to ensure that the Employee Retention Tax Credit can be accessed by businesses that otherwise wouldn’t fully qualify but were also hard hit with major revenue losses due to the pandemic, particularly those in the live entertainment and performing arts industries.
These are just a few of the important provisions in this comprehensive legislation that will help improve lives, create jobs, and get our economy back on track.
The American Rescue Plan empowers our people, businesses, and communities to do what Americans do best: rally in the face of hardship, help each other, and create new and better ways forward. I will keep working with the Biden administration and Granite Staters to defeat the pandemic, help our country recover, and move forward with the spirit and optimism that is our hallmark.