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Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America Welcomes Senate Passage of ‘American Rescue Plan’ Covid Relief Package

Posted on March 8, 2021 In COVID19, Press Releases

Legislation Includes Expanded Aid to Charities and Nonpublic K-12 Schools

[Update: The House of Representatives passed this legislation on March 10; it goes next to President Biden for his signature]

Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, welcomed the U.S. Senate’s passage of the latest federal Covid relief package – the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

The legislation contains several provisions that will benefit the Jewish community, including two in particular for which the Orthodox Union worked closely with coalition partners, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other congressional leaders. These measures are:

  • Expanding the availability of forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to nonprofit charities that employ more than 500 people. When the PPP was first created through the CARES Act, the OU Advocacy Center and other groups worked to ensure these critical funds would be available to all nonprofits (including those that are faith-based) on the same terms as for-profit businesses. This excluded many important charities because the CARES Act didn’t provide the same exception to that limitation that was afforded to some businesses. Under the provisions of the previous relief packages, a for-profit business with 500+ employees but that didn’t employ more than 500 of them at a single physical location was still eligible for a PPP loan. The ARP now extends that exception to nonprofit charities. In addition to Sen. Schumer, the Senate’s Small Business Committee Chairman, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), played a key role in this expansion.
  • Allocating a new $2.75 billion pool to support Jewish and other nonpublic K-12 schools addressing Covid-related costs and impact. While the OU Advocacy Center succeeded in pressing Congress to include that support in the second package enacted in December 2020, the U.S. House’s version of the ARP didn’t contain any additional support for nonpublic K-12 schools (even as it appropriated billions more to support public K-12 schools – in addition to funds appropriated in December). With Sen. Schumer’s leadership, the ARP—as modified by the Senate—now contains a second round of $2.75 billion to help Jewish and other nonpublic K-12 schools amid the pandemic.

Other provisions of the ARP that will benefit not only the Jewish community, as well as American society at large, include dramatically expanding the federal child tax credit; extending unemployment insurance payments; and providing funding for Covid vaccine distribution.

Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament stated:
“The Orthodox Jewish community in New York and across the United States is immensely grateful to Sen. Chuck Schumer for his leadership and determination to pass the American Rescue Plan and ensuring that it contains key provisions to deliver essential aid to our communities’ schools, synagogues as well as other nonprofit institutions on the front lines of supporting Americans as we weather this crisis. The challenges we face are unprecedented, and we are thus doubly grateful that the Senate and the Biden Administration are responding with historic measures such as the ARP.”

Orthodox Union President Mark (Moishe) Bane stated:
“We urge the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and rapidly pass the ARP with no additional changes. We also look forward to working with President Biden and his administration to speedily implement the plan in ways that most effectively deliver these resources to our communities.”