Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass the final version of the COVID-19 relief bill set to be signed by President Biden this Friday. The bill offers much needed relief to communities across the country who’ve been hit hard by the pandemic and its impact on schools, the economy, and day-to-day life. Earthjustice is proud to have worked hard with our partners and allies in Congress to support the inclusion of $100 million in environmental justice grants, half of which goes to air quality monitoring and the other half to addressing disproportionate environmental or public health harms and risks in communities of color. The bill also includes $4.5 billion in additional funding for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), $500 million provided to low-income households for water utility bill assistance, and $7.6 billion in funding to community health centers, among many additional spending priorities.
Once signed into law, the package will deliver direct payments to individuals and dependents, support for state and local governments, emergency rental assistance and housing provisions, the extension of unemployment insurance, additional support for public assistance programs, and support for farmers of color and for small- and mid-sized food businesses, including critical funding for grants, loans, and technical assistance for the farmers, ranchers, and other food businesses who are the backbone of our food supply.
The following is a statement from Martin Hayden, Vice President of Policy & Legislation at Earthjustice:
“We are gratified to see the passage of this much needed legislative relief that will immediately lessen the burden of communities across the country. More than that, we are deeply grateful that Congress and the Biden administration clearly see that environmental justice, clean air, and access to clean water are all critical to the recovery and the well-being of the United States. We look forward to working with the president and Congress to advance the Build Back Better agenda.”