Biden secures third round of major pandemic relief
The need to act is clear in the lines at food banks, the small businesses that are closed or closing, and the growing number of Americans experiencing housing insecurity. After nearly a year of the public health crisis, our nation remains in this dark winter of the pandemic and facing a deep economic crisis. – The American Rescue Plan, from the White House Briefing Room, Jan. 20, 2021
On the day of his inauguration, President Joe Biden promised to unite the American people and lift the health of the nation from the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden unveiled the American Rescue Plan (ARP), a $1.9 trillion relief package, coupled with a flurry of executive orders pertaining to climate, equity, immigration, and the economy. From the onset, the ARP was anything but a bridge to unify the partisan divisions entrenched in Washington, D.C. – not a single Republican voted in favor of the relief package in its months-long course of debate and deliberations through Congress. Divisions were present among the Democratic party as well, notably in the Senate where tough negotiations tested the Democrats slim majority power. Yet on day 50 of his presidency, Biden signed the ARP into law.
A LOOK AT WHAT THE ARP DOES FOR AMERICA’S HOTELIERS
The $1.9 trillion ARP contains a laundry list of provisions, from direct stimulus payments to state and local funding to vaccine distribution. For the hotelier, the increased funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are most relevant. The ARP adds $7.25 billion to the PPP and an additional $15 billion for EIDLs. The $160 billion earmarked for vaccine funding will also benefit the industry. COVID-19 cases have been trending downwards, and as more Americans receive the vaccine, travelers will feel more comfortable getting back on the road.
BIDEN AND THE DEMOCRATS ROLLED THE ARP BUT FACE A BUMPY ROAD AHEAD
The ARP is a massive political victory for the Biden Administration, showcasing its influence over a fragile Democratic majority in control of Congress. At the same time, the legislation’s contested journey through Congress foreshadows the partisan divide Biden and the Democratic majority will face when enacting their longer-term economic agenda. However, the partisan split on the ARP did not reflect the American public’s support of the pandemic relief package. According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in early March, 70% of U.S. adults said they favored the bill, and only 28% noted their opposition to it. Support was even surprisingly high among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, who polled at 41% in favor of the ARP.
The political theatre performed in Congress does not always reflect the will of the American public. As the pandemic eclipses the one-year mark, Americans are looking to the government to alleviate the ongoing health and economic crisis. The Biden Administration has benchmarked its success on getting the pandemic under control and getting Americans back to work, which could prove more difficult depending on what legislation he pursues next. Not only will Biden require unbreaking support from the Democrats, but he will also have to cross the aisle to work with Republicans in Congress, many of whom are embittered with the price tag of the ARP and their lack of say in the final legislation.