With the passing of the American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden’s message to county officials was clear: Help is here.
The $350 billion allocation to state and local governments is the most significant investment in county and local governments in the history of the country, Biden told NACo members Wednesday, March 24 during the 2021 Virtual NACo Legislative Conference.
“It comes with flexibility to address your specific needs,” he explained.
County officials have a partner in his administration when it comes to fighting the pandemic, improving the economy, reopening schools, rooting out systemic racism, tackling the climate crisis, budgeting and continuing essential services, he said.
“You’ve heard me say before as a former councilman that I know what a hard job you have,” he said. “Your work is often the basis on which people either have faith or don’t have faith in their government because you’re the direct contact.”
The American Rescue Plan puts the country on a path to reopen schools safely and quickly, support small businesses in counties and cut child poverty in half as well as provide the resources needed to beat the pandemic including for vaccines, vaccinators and vaccination sites to allow every adult to be eligible for a vaccine by May.
“So that on July 4, we can begin to declare our independence from this virus, a true Independence Day,” Biden said.
Biden recently appointed economist Gene Sperling, who is experienced in implementing major government initiatives, to oversee the implementation of the American Rescue Plan. Biden said relief will arrive quickly, equitably and efficiently.
He also referenced his Build Back Better Recovery Plan, which he said his administration will continue to work closely with counties on the long-term investments in infrastructure, broadband, and in other areas.
“I know there’s a lot to do, I really do, but I know we can do this together — Republican, Democrat, we can do this together,” he said. “I want to thank you all for doing what your communities and your country needs so badly because you’re right there, you’re among the first government responders.”