On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Senate amended language of the American Rescue Plan Act by a vote of 220-211. The bill once again passed largely along party-lines, with all but one House Democrat voting in favor and all House Republicans in opposition. The legislation now goes to the desk of President Joe Biden, whose proposal was the foundation of the bill, to be signed into law on Friday afternoon.
This law finally delivers the long-awaited comprehensive relief that IATSE members and the American people desperately need.“IATSE sisters, brothers, and kin — like so many across this country — have endured far too much over the last year. The American Rescue Plan Act will reduce suffering for those most impacted and put our members closer to getting back to the careers they love. We said from the beginning that the severity of this health crisis demands decisive action from our federal government. Saying this shouldn’t be a partisan statement. It was true a year ago, it was true during the November election, and it is true today. And yet, every Republican member of Congress chose to vote against the American Rescue Plan and tried to stand between our members and meaningful COVID-19 relief. Make no mistake, help is on the way, but it was only made possible because together we turned out in record numbers to elect pro-worker candidates to lead the executive branch and both houses of the federal legislature,” said IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb.
The American Rescue Plan Act – as amended by the Senate, passed by both chambers of Congress, and signed into law by President Biden – features IATSE’s most urgent priorities for subsequent COVID-19 relief legislation:• Extends the $300 federal weekly unemployment supplement and the COVID-19 unemployment programs (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation) through September 6; makes the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits non-taxable income in 2021 for households with an adjusted gross income under $150,000• Provides a 100% subsidy of COBRA premiums through the end of September, so that members who have not yet returned to work can remain on multiemployer health plans• Makes 501(c)(5) labor unions eligible for Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans so that local unions can continue to provide important support and assistance to their members, despite significant COVID-19-related declines in revenues• Allows multiemployer pension plans to freeze zone status and smooth losses, protecting our healthy plans; delivers long-needed support to troubled pension plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, without jeopardizing healthy plans• Provides direct payments of $1,400 per taxpayer and per child/dependent; payments phase out for individuals making more than $75,000 and couples more than $150,000, with a complete phase out at $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for couples; eligibility based on 2019 or 2020 tax returns• Appropriates $135 million in emergency supplemental funding for both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, $175 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and an additional $1.25 billion for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program (Save Our Stages).
For those not eligible for COBRA, the bill also fully subsidizes Affordable Care Act coverage for people earning up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level for two years as well as those on unemployment insurance. Additional provisions include expanding tax credits for employers who provide their employees with paid sick leave and paid family leave through September, extending the CARES Act Employee Retention Credit, providing $350 billion in state and local government aid, and significant funding for vaccinations and a plan to defeat the virus.
IATSE commends President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for their leadership on this critical legislation. We applaud every member of Congress who voted to get our members the relief necessary to endure this pandemic until they can get back to work doing what they love, entertaining and healing the nation.