Policy and Advocacy
Following many rounds of negotiations, Congress has passed the American Rescue Plan. We are incredibly pleased that the bill includes much-needed relief to help struggling families, schools, and state and local governments weather the COVID-19 crisis. Deep thanks to many of you who reached out and urged members of our delegation to support this important legislation.
Another plus? The President signed the package into law yesterday afternoon - before unemployment benefits expire on March 14.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) includes key provisions to address the enormous hardship caused by the pandemic – hardship that has taken a severe toll on low-income families with children and communities of color. Some of the most important measures include:
- An extension of the 15% increase in SNAP benefits and extended housing assistance so that families can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads
- A temporary extension of federal pandemic unemployment assistance through September 6 for millions of people who lost their jobs
- Financial support, from an additional stimulus payment and temporary tax credit expansions (through the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit), that will help families cover basic expenses and prevent them from falling into a deeper financial hole
- Much-needed fiscal relief for k-12 schools, states, and localities to keep key services going, help restore public jobs, and prevent further layoffs and cuts
You can see more details on how the ARP will help our communities and get our nation on track for an economic recovery in CBPP’s latest analysis. However, it is important to remember that help provided by the ARP is only temporary. We will all need to push for long-term policy advances that will reduce poverty and address longstanding inequities that have been worsened by the COVID-19 crisis. We hope ARP is the groundwork for long-term solutions that will improve economic security for all.
In addition to the American Rescue Plan, there is more good news from DC. Earlier this week, the USDA announced it has extended Child Nutrition Waivers through the end of summer (to Sept. 30, 2021). This extension will ensure schools, local government agencies, and private nonprofit organizations have time to plan, can count on consistent policies summer long, and will retain current flexibilities to safely serve all children who need access to free meals through the summer months.
From Harrisburg, we have some helpful information about improvements to the MyCOMPASS PA Mobile App Updates. Our apologies – DHS launched myCOMPASS PA 5.0, the latest update to the myCOMPASS PA mobile app in late February (we’re just catching up!). This update allows users to:
- Check the balance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card directly on their mobile device (previously this was only available via the COMPASS website or by calling the vendor 1-800 number)
- Report a lost or stolen card
- Review previous EBT transactions
- Request a replacement EBT card
- Change their PIN
The mobile app can be downloaded at no cost through the Apple App and Google Play stores.