|Senate-Passed American Rescue Plan Act Includes Emergency Paid Leave for Federal Employees|
SUMMARY: The Senate passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which includes several provisions that will impact federal employees including additional COVID-related emergency paid leave.
This weekend, by a vote of 50-49, the Senate passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319). Among other things, this bill would aid federal employees during this pandemic by providing 600 hours (15 weeks) of COVID-related emergency paid leave for civilian federal employees who are required to quarantine, are ill with COVID-19, are caring for a child whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions or whose school or place of care has been closed or requires or makes optional a virtual learning hybrid in-person/ virtual instruction model, or those who are caring for a family member incapable of self-care whose care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19. This leave could also be used to obtain immunization from COVID-19 or for time off due to illness as a result of the immunization. While this benefit is capped at $1,400 per week, it ensures that no employee will go without income while dealing with pandemic-related issues. It expires after September 30, 2021. During Senate consideration, several amendments, including an amendment from Senator Todd Young (R-IN), were introduced to strip this provision from the bill. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) spoke in opposition to the Young amendment and the amendment failed on a 47-50 party line vote.
The bill also includes a provision that would ensure workers’ compensation eligibility for federal employees diagnosed with COVID-19 whose duties require contact with others or other risks of exposure to the virus.
In addition, the bill would task the IRS with delivering a third round of economic impact payments of $1,400 per person and provide families with advance payments of their Child Tax Credit for tax year 2021. To carry out these new responsibilities, the bill authorizes more than $1.8 billion in funding, including dedicated funds to integrate, modernize and secure IRS systems. It would also provide $500 million in no-year money to support COVID-19 activities at the NTEU-represented Food & Drug Administration (FDA). This will help ensure that the FDA has the funds it needs as its workload grows and shifts in response to the pandemic.
The House is expected to vote on the bill as soon as Tuesday and the send it to the White House where the President is expected to sign it. I will keep you informed on any developments.