AFSA Statement on House Passage of the American Rescue Plan

“Today’s final passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, which provides $125 billion to reopen schools safely and billions more to support America’s struggling workforce, arrives not a minute too soon. This bill, which hews closely to President Biden’s original proposal, will jump-start the process of returning our nation’s schools to in-person learning by providing dollars to ensure our educators and students have the PPE and clean classrooms that they deserve, the education technology critical for in-person and remote learning, and the support to stem the learning loss that too many students have suffered. It will also deliver a much-needed boost to the millions of America’s workers who have endured job losses, struggled to keep roofs over their heads and put food on the table, and feared that they would never receive vaccines.

“While we celebrate this important milestone today, much work remains. Less than half of America’s schools provide full-time, in-person learning, and that number will not improve without better access to vaccines for educators in all parts of the country, and the development of vaccines safe for K12 students. This bill’s inclusion of funding for vaccines and President Biden’s push to vaccinate all teachers by the end of this month are powerful levers but they must be pulledand pulled hardby the state and federal governments.

“Nationwide unemployment figures continue to be north of 6%, a far cry from where this country’s economy was prior to the pandemic, and a troubling sign of how many Americans have lost their livelihoods in the past year. This bill’s provision of another round of stimulus checks for low-income Americans and extension of federal jobless benefits are critical; its failure to include any increase in the federal minimum wage is a gigantic disappointment that must be rectified immediately.

“AFSA stands ready to work with the Biden administration to implement the American Rescue Plan Act and to engage with Congress on passing a federal minimum wage increase, along with funding to rebuild and renovate America’s public schools.”