WASHINGTON – Durango will receive $4.07 million from the federal government in the latest COVID relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
The American Rescue Plan was signed by President Joe Biden on March 11. It promises a hefty $1.9 trillion in aid to states and territories to combat the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people and communities.
The bill funds state and local governments and programs aimed at alleviating economic damage caused by the pandemic. It also includes direct payments to individuals.
According to reports compiled by the Senate Democrats, Colorado will receive just over $6 billion in state and local government funding. La Plata County is estimated to receive $10.9 million in funding.
Governments can use money allotted them to address the pandemic’s impacts in a few ways, including providing higher pay to essential workers and investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure. Recipient governments also can use money to assist individual households, small businesses, nonprofits and impacted industries, such as tourism, travel and hospitality.
In the coming weeks, the Department of Treasury will issue more guidance about appropriate uses of the money. Recipient governments are also required to send reports to the Department of Treasury outlining how they have used money.
The American Rescue Plan’s specific impacts on Colorado include funding to education, child care and unemployment benefits. Allotments include:
$495 million will go toward Colorado higher education, half of which will go directly to students.$466 million will go to Colorado child care providers.$300 million will help low-income households and the unemployed in Colorado afford rent and utilities.$1.2 billion will go to Colorado’s elementary and secondary schools for emergency relief funding.Under the measure, 82% of Coloradans will receive stimulus checks of up to $1,400.
More than 1 million children younger than 18 in Colorado will benefit from expansion of the Child Tax Credit.
More than 200,000 Coloradans currently relying on unemployment benefits will receive a six-month extension and a supplemental payment of $300 a week.
The American Rescue Plan would also provide more than $32 billion in funding to tribal governments and Native American communities.
The American Rescue Plan passed the House 220 to 211. One Democrat – U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine – joined all Republicans in voting against the measure.
The bill has drawn criticism from conservatives on the Hill, including Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. Boebert said the act primarily funds “Democrat pet projects” and that only “9% of this bill is going to address COVID-19-related issues.
“This legislation uses COVID like cheap drugstore concealer, masking the nasty truth about Democrat spending,” Boebert said on the House floor. “This is nothing more than a trashy spending spree while doing nothing for those who have suffered the most from this China virus.”
Boebert voted against the bill.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., however, have been staunch supporters of the measure since its beginning.
“We’re close to the end of this pandemic – we can’t let anyone fall through the cracks,” Hickenlooper said after voting to pass the American Rescue Plan on the Senate floor.
In the Senate, 50 Democrats voted for the American Rescue Plan and 49 Republicans voted against it, with one Republican not voting.
Throughout the bill’s journey between the House, the Senate and Biden’s desk, Bennet and Hickenlooper continued to Tweet their support of the bill and provisions they thought were most important. Hickenlooper even posted a video of him to Twitter explaining his favorite parts after the measure was signed into law.
“This legislation is the most significant investment in American workers and families in generations, but it is only the beginning of our work to build an economy that delivers greater opportunity and security to all Americans,” Bennet said in a news release statement after Biden signed it.
Grace George is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.