The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11 does more than bring necessary relief to the millions of people who have suffered economically during the pandemic. With its myriad and wide-ranging provisions, it might very well restore faith in the government’s ability to deliver large-scale programs that improve people’s lives.
Signed one year to the day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the ARP includes broadly popular measures to combat the health crisis itself
and to ease the economic devastation that lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have caused. Funds for vaccine distribution and testing, money for state and local governments, loans for small businesses, and aid to schools to help them reopen safely will help communities get back on track. Another round of relief checks, the extension of $300-per-week unemployment benefits, and rental, mortgage, and food relief will allow those whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic to feed themselves and their families and to remain
in their homes.
The ARP’s broad popularity is striking: according to a CBS/YouGov poll, three out of four Americans support it, including 46 percent of Republicans. Yet not a single Republican in Congress voted for the legislation. For a time it also seemed possible that disagreements between factions within the Democratic Party might threaten the bill’s passage. But in the end conservative, moderate, and progressive Democrats demonstrated that they were capable of working together—and of overcoming Republican intransigence—when it mattered most.