The American Rescue Plan. The American Jobs Plan. The American Families Plan. So many plans! If you’re feeling confused about what Congress did and will do to support a just recovery you are not alone. So much has happened in the first 100 days of the Biden administration that it’s hard to keep track.
We need bold legislation that will fundamentally shift us towards a more inclusive economy, a more just society, and a more sustainable earth.
In March, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill to assist individuals and families struggling in the wake of the global pandemic and economic downturn.
Yet, temporary relief is not enough. Rather than returning to the pre-pandemic society, this is a moment to rectify the structural inequalities exposed so brightly by the coronavirus. We need bold legislation that will fundamentally shift us towards a more inclusive economy, a more just society, and a more sustainable earth.
In early April, FCNL wrote President Biden, articulating our top priorities for such recovery legislation. The letter did not list every policy we want. It simply named the top priorities we plan to lobby on.
The White House released its proposals for recovery legislation in two plans: the American Jobs Plan (AJP) and the American Families Plan (AFP). Together, they include historic investments in childcare, education, and paid family while creating jobs and addressing climate change. These investments would be paid for by raising taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.
How do the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan compare to FCNL’s top asks?
1. Reduce Poverty Through Tax Credits
Congress expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) in previous recovery legislation. These improvements could cut child poverty in half—but they will expire at the end of the year without Congressional action. They need to be made permanent.
✅ Mostly Included: The AFP makes the EITC expansion and part of the CTC expansion permanent. However, the larger CTC amount ($3,000 per child and $3,600 for kids under 6) would expire in 2025.
2. Fund Environmental Justice Initiatives
Congress should increase funding for the federal government’s environmental cleanup and environmental justice initiatives. This should include funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program and for grants programs for local and community environmental justice organizations and community-driven projects.
3. Provide a Pathway to Citizenship
We know that an equitable and inclusive recovery requires a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS recipients, and other essential workers. This legislation should create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, specifically immigrant youth, TPS recipients, DED holders, farmworkers and other essential workers.
❌ Not Included
4. Lift the Ban on Assistance for Returning Citizens
It is time to lift the bans on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for those with felony drug convictions.
✅ Partly Included: The AFP lifts the SNAP ban but not the TANF ban.
5. Expand Internet Access
Congress must invest in affordable high-speed Internet and broadband access, focusing especially on tribal communities.
6. Rebuild Housing Infrastructure
Rebuild the nation’s housing infrastructure by closing disparities in home ownership, ending homelessness, and investing in housing assistance.
✅ Partially Included: The AJP includes funding to building and rehabilitate affordable housing, but it doesn’t include the desperately needed investments in housing vouchers and other forms of low-income housing assistance.
7. Raise Revenue
Raise revenues from progressive sources by raising taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals.
We have a once-in-a-generation moment before us. Congressional leaders will soon decide what priorities to include in upcoming recovery legislation. Now is the time to weigh in with your members of Congress. This is a moment for bold investments in our common future, and responsible revenues can offset these costs while addressing America’s growing chasm in income and wealth inequality.