RICHMOND, Va.—Today, Virginia’s 2021 Special Session II concluded with the House Democrats keeping their promises on how they would allocate federal American Rescue Plan funding.
The House Democratic Caucus advocated successfully for the following funding:
- Broadband expansion: Over $700 million in funding to expedite the deployment of last-mile broadband infrastructure to unserved areas and close the digital divide within the next three years.
- Small businesses: $250 million to fully fund the Rebuild VA program, to reinvest in our economy and take strides to build a better Virginia in the aftermath of the pandemic.
- Virginia Employment Commission: $862 million added to the Unemployment Trust Fund, with another $73.6 million is being allocated to update and modernize VEC systems to improve claimant services.
- Public school infrastructure: $250 million to upgrade our public schools’ infrastructure by enhancing their HVAC systems. This will address ventilation needs and ensure improved air quality so our children only have to focus on learning in their classrooms.
- Public health systems: This funding will go toward making sure our medical infrastructure is up to date and as safe as possible. $238 million is being allocated for substance abuse and mental health systems, and $280.8 million will go toward public health initiatives.
- Clean water: $411.5 million to fortify wastewater treatment infrastructure, provide funds for homeowners who live below the poverty line to improve their wells and septic systems, and increase access to drinkable water in every corner of the Commonwealth.
- Financial aid for higher education: $111 million to provide aid for students who might not have been able to afford higher education otherwise.
In addition, House Democrats continued to support voting rights during Special Session, where they assigned $3 million to assist localities with the expansion of early voting, including Sunday voting, and $1.5 million to combat election misinformation. HB 7001 also left approximately $1.1 billion available if needed for the Commonwealth to manage another COVID-19 resurgence.
This critical federal aid was proposed by the Biden administration to provide COVID-19 relief to Americans throughout the country. It was opposed by every single member of Virginia’s Congressional Republican delegation, as well as GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.
House Democratic Majority Leader Charniele Herring and House Democratic Caucus Chair Rip Sullivan released the following statement:
“Virginia House Democrats took the allocation of the American Rescue Plan money seriously. Our priority was to assist Virginians hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic shock, and we delivered. The House Democratic majority stands firm in our commitment to support the most vulnerable among us.”