Jewish groups welcomed the passage in the U.S. Senate of the “American Rescue Plan,” the government’s $1.9 trillion aid package to help communities, families, individuals and businesses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are thrilled about the many important provisions in this bill,” stated Elana Broitman, senior vice president of public affairs at the Jewish Federations of North America. “Communities are ailing from the impact of COVID, and this relief is very needed. It will expand PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loans, provide additional funding that can support vaccinations, including helping homebound seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, as well as support food pantries, emergency food and housing needs.”
She told JNS that “we will now work to make sure these funding streams are dispersed in the way they were intended.”
Among provisions that would have specific impacts on the Jewish community is a $2.75 billion allocation for nonpublic K-12 schools with a substantial percentage of low-income students, which communal officials believe will help Jewish day schools; additional funding aid for “shuttered venue operators,” which includes both small businesses and nonprofits; as well as a number of new or expanding funding streams for human services, including those benefiting children and the elderly.
The Orthodox Union and its executive director for public policy, Nathan Diament, singled out Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for ensuring the legislation’s passage, noting that the plan “contains key provisions to deliver essential aid to our communities’ schools, synagogues as well as other nonprofit institutions on the front lines of supporting Americans as we weather this crisis. The challenges we face are unprecedented, and we are thus doubly grateful that the Senate and the Biden administration are responding with historic measures.”
Also singling out Schumer for praise was the Abba Cohen, vice president for government affairs and Washington director for the Agudath Israel of America, who tweeted: “Agudath Israel pleased to work hard on provisions in the American Rescue Plan that will bring vital relief to individuals and families, parents and children, nonprofits and schools in Jewish and other communities. Thank you, Sen. Schumer, for your leadership in making that happen.”
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the legislation on Wednesday with groups rallying them to pass the aid package without delay.
As the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism tweeted on Monday afternoon: “We urge the House of Representatives to swiftly pass the American Rescue Plan, send the bill to [U.S.] President [Joe] Biden’s desk, and deliver much-needed relief to the workers and families.” JN