Getting Iowa’s Voice Heard In The American Rescue Plan – Congresswoman Cindy Axne

Over the past year, I have been in Washington fighting hard for you and in honor of the 5,600 Iowans we’ve lost to COVID-19.

In particular, I’ve been working hard on getting my priorities included in the American Rescue Plan, such as protecting unemployed Iowans from surprise tax bills, fixing reimbursement rates for firefighters and EMTs, and offering direct relief to help Iowa’s renters and homeowners.

I am proud to have cast my vote to send the American Rescue Plan to the President’s desk because this legislation provides the necessary tools to end this pandemic, get Iowans safely back to work, and help the workers and businesses that are hurting.

And I’m pleased to share that just moments ago, President Biden signed this comprehensive legislation into law!

Here’s more information about the provisions I fought to include in the new law:

Protecting Unemployed Iowans from Surprise Tax Bills

A big priority of mine in this package was to make sure Iowans who received unemployment benefits in 2020 don’t receive any surprise tax bills.

And last weekend, the legislation I wrote to provide that tax relief was added to the American Rescue Plan, allowing Iowans to waive federal income taxes on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 for households earning less than $150,000.

This piece of legislation was particularly important to me because the thousands of Iowans who are trying to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table don’t deserve the extra burden of another unexpected bill right now.

If this applies to you, stay tuned for more updates from me and the IRS on how to waive these taxes if you’ve already filed your 2020 tax return. 

Learn more by clicking here.

Fixing Reimbursement Rates for Firefighters and EMTs

Recently, I introduced bipartisan legislation that will provide reimbursements for firefighters, emergency medical services (EMS), and other medical first responders who provide medical treatment at the scene of an accident.

Before this legislation was signed by President Biden, Medicare reimbursements were not provided to firefighters and medical responders for supplies and services they provided if they treated someone on location. Reimbursements for these services were only approved when a patient was transferred to a hospital.

Under my Treatment in Place Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will reimburse ambulance providers for care delivered when a patient is treated in place. This provides vital funding to ground ambulance organizations, and will provide much-needed relief to organizations that have been overwhelmed by this pandemic.

Our fire departments and EMS first responders in Iowa have been on the front lines responding to this COVID-19 public health emergency for a full year now. They are highly trained professionals, able to respond to many medical situations they face without having to leave their current location. This legislation frees up hospital beds, scarce resources, and other medical professionals, which are all essential when facing a pandemic.

Housing and Rental Assistance 

I fought for two priorities in the House Financial Services Committee that were ultimately included in the American Rescue Plan. The package provides $26 billion for emergency rental assistance, $10 billion for homeowners assistance, and $4.75 billion for homelessness funding. This money will help Iowans keep a roof over their heads, and allow them to have a home to stay in if they get sick.

The first provision I fought for is my Protect Rural Renters Act. While rural renters can also use the general rental assistance programs, I fought to ensure a dedicated set aside of $100 million for rural rental assistance through the USDA. The second provision provides $100 million for housing counseling to renters and homeowners. Housing counselors can provide advice for Iowans who need help with housing costs, loan modification, and will help prevent foreclosure.

This last year has been scary, long, and has put enough pressure on so many who have lost their jobs, their loved ones, and their sense of normalcy. The last thing Iowans need right now is to worry about is whether they will be able to lose their homes as well.

The American Rescue Plan is a $1.9 trillion effort to finally end this pandemic and support those who have been hurt by it.

This law will help Iowans keep their homes. It will support first responders and help them to do their job to the best of their abilities. And it will help hard-working Iowans who have lost their jobs get back on their feet.

This legislation will provide roughly $2.7 billion to Iowa’s city, county, and state government coffers, including $1.5 billion to the State of Iowa. This money is sorely needed as Iowa’s tax revenue declined significantly in 2020, while first responders, teachers, and public health employees were expected to do more than ever in order to protect their friends, neighbors, family members, and students from this virus.

This week, Iowa is celebrating nearing our first million vaccinations against this deadly virus. We are moving quickly to get this virus under control, but the economic fallout created by this pandemic will linger. We need to continue to help our neighbors, family members, and friends as much as we can.

It’s going to take a monumental group effort to make sure everyone can begin to heal from this devastating year. Even though the American Rescue Plan is done and signed, I will continue to work as hard as I can for you. If there’s anything my staff or I can do for you, please reach out.

Stay safe and be well,