Biden’s Bold Legislative Proposal Meets Crisis, Fights Poverty, Lays Groundwork for Thriving Nation

January 15, 2021, Washington D.C., -- President-elect Biden unveiled his proposal for the next coronavirus relief package that provides a comprehensive response to the needs of the nation during this time of crisis. The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) applauds the incoming president and his team for developing a robust, ambitious, and practical plan that commits the resources needed to address the health impacts of the pandemic and advance an economic relief agenda that centers communities of color and people with low incomes. This plan comes at a critical inflection point in our country as we battle two intersecting pandemics —the deadly coronavirus and systemic racism. These investments will both respond to enormous immediate distress that families and workers are facing and lay the foundation for building a stronger and more equitable country—including by sharply reducing child poverty, which should be a top priority for lawmakers.

Over 380,000 Americans have been killed by the coronavirus, millions are unemployed, and countless people are struggling to meet their basic needs including food and shelter. People of color continue to disproportionately suffer from the recession and pandemic due to centuries of racism.

“The Biden economic rescue plan boldly responds to this crisis by delivering what families, workers, and communities need immediately: practical steps including direct income support, child care, paid leave and sick days, housing stability, and unemployment insurance. We particularly applaud the design of the plan to center those who need help the most, including children, people of color, families, workers with low incomes, and people living in poverty,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of CLASP.

President-Elect Biden’s coronavirus relief proposal contains several provisions that are particularly relevant for people with low incomes and communities of color and that target the devastating effects of the pandemic and recession on children and young people. The plan would:

  • Provide immediate financial relief through another round of cash payments of $1,400 per person and tax credits, including for groups that were left out of previous legislation such as mixed-status households and adult dependents.
  • Reinstate—and expand—the emergency paid sick leave and emergency family and medical leave provisions from previous relief legislation that expired in December. This expansion will allow 106 million additional people to access paid leave until September, many of them with full wage replacement.
  • Make the Child Tax Credit fully refundable for the year so families with low incomes can access the benefit while also increasing the benefit to $3,000 per child and $3,600 per child under age 6.
  • Make critical changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without dependent children on a temporary basis that we think should be the start of permanent changes.
  • Address the crisis in the child care sector and support children, families, and child care providers by investing $25 billion in a child care stabilization fund, in addition to $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant to expand access to affordable child care for families with low incomes.
  • Invest $4 billion to increase access to urgently needed mental health services nationwide.
  • Slow the spread of coronavirus in federal, state, and local prisons, jails, and detention centers through COVID-19 mitigation strategies, protective equipment, safe re-entry for the formerly incarcerated, and the vaccination of both incarcerated people and staff.
  • Support higher education institutions with a $35 billion investment, targeted at community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions.
  • Extend and expand unemployment insurance assistance by an additional $400/week for unemployed workers through the duration of the public health crisis.

“We are pleased that many of CLASP’s recommendations for specific urgent and practical steps-- including those related to hunger, cash assistance, paid family leave, and child care--are reflected in the proposal. We look forward to working closely with Congress to ensure the final package addresses the needs of communities with low incomes and all communities of color and continues to lay the groundwork for a stronger, more equitable nation,” said Golden.

As the virus continues its deadly scourge across the country, individuals, families, and communities cannot wait for this help. This package must lay the groundwork for a new vision for the country that invests in our future, reduces poverty and racial inequities, and supports our collective well-being. Congress should immediately begin working with the Biden-Harris Administration to pass this proposal into law.