The American Rescue Plan Act

Presented in January and passed by Congress (without Republican support) early in March, President Biden signed on March 11th the American Rescue Plan Act enacting one of the largest economic relief programs in United States history.  The 1.9 trillion dollars stimulus package is set to bolster the economy with the stated goals of: (1) funding a comprehensive COVID response plan, (2) delivering relief to working families, (3) supporting communities that are struggling, and (4) protecting against future cyberattack.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act allocates funds through various programmatic areas, including: $1,400 stimulus checks per person for most individuals and families, State and Local Aid, Unemployment, Education, Individual and Corporate Tax Credits and $125 billion in funding for COVID-19 vaccines, treatment, and testing.

In addition, around $11 billion dollars of the massive 1.9 trillion rescue plan will be allocated to foreign aid. The move is just the beginning of the United States international response to the global coronavirus pandemic. In detail:

  • $3.5 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This supplements the Global Fund’s annual funding and will go through State Department global health funding.
  • $3.09 billion to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s coronavirus response focused on international disaster relief, health activities, and food security.
  • $930 million to address economic and stabilization needs resulting from the pandemic.
  • $905 million for USAID global health activities to respond to COVID-19, including vaccine development.
  • $800 million to support Food for Peace food aid.
  • $750 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat COVID-19 globally, including efforts related to global health security and global immunization.
  • $580 million in multilateral funding, including support for the United Nations COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan through voluntary contributions to international organizations or programs they manage.
  • $500 million for humanitarian response related to migration and refugee assistance.
  • $250 million for State Department global health programs — primarily the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief — to fund COVID-19 response and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on HIV/AIDS programs.

 

What does this mean for Civil Society Organizations?

The American Rescue Plan Act will deliver much-needed relief in the light of COVID-19, not only in the United States of America but this stimulus package will also have a spillover effect in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, possible mobilizing other donors through the G20 and U.N. to do the same.

The nonprofit sector represents one of the largest industries not only in the United States, but also in many countries of the Latin America and the Caribbean region. The negative consequences of global coronavirus pandemic to millions of individuals and families have made the need for NGOs and philanthropy even more vital as they are closer to communities. It is now up to Civil Society Organizations to utilize provisions of this new law that are designed to help their organizations and the people they serve survive and recover. The inclusion of state and local funding as well as emergency grant funding in the American Rescue Plan Act means Civil Society Organizations will receive the support they need to be able to serve local communities at this time of immense need.

As for the region, on the contrary to the previous administration, Biden has already made public his commitment to mobilize private inversion to the region while addressing transparency and economic development by providing training programs, promoting the development of human capital, as well as technical assistance through international cooperation agencies.