How the American Rescue Plan Helps Vermont Families 


Dear Fellow Vermonter,

During the last year I have heard from thousands of Vermonters about the struggles they have faced during this terrible pandemic. 

Whether it is the need to find affordable health care, the loss of jobs and income, fears about feeding their families, mental health issues, worries about getting evicted from their homes or concerns about the disruption of their kids' education – Vermonters, like all Americans, have suffered through a very difficult period.

As I'm sure you know, in response to these unprecedented crises, Congress has just passed and President Biden has signed the American Rescue Plan. In my view, this is one of the most significant pieces of legislation for working families in the modern history of this country. 

This legislation increases direct payments to individuals by $1,400, extends critical unemployment benefits, reduces child poverty by half, ensures we are vaccinating as many people as possible, and puts us on a path to safely reopen schools. 

As Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I worked hard to ensure that this bill addresses the needs of Vermonters, and I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the ways this bill will help our state. If you have any questions about this legislation and how it may impact you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact my office by phone at 802-862-0697 or 1-800-339-9834, or on our website.



  • Direct Aid to the state of Vermont: $1.35 billion in relief is going to the state of Vermont and local governments to help them through the pandemic.
  • Direct Payments: 89% of all Vermonters – some 428,000 adults and 145,000 children – will receive direct payments of $1,400 each. For example, a family of four earning less than $150,000 a year will receive a direct payment of $5,600. These payments should be going out as early as this week. 
  • Historic Reduction in Child Poverty: 143,000 Vermont children and their families will benefit from the expansion of the child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000. For families with kids under 6, the credit is increasing to $3,600.
  • Extension of Unemployment Benefits: Federal unemployment benefits are extended through September 6th, providing relief to 12,131 Vermonters who were about to lose this assistance.
  • Rent and Mortgage Relief: $202 million for rent, mortgage, and utility assistance to help Vermonters who are behind on their payments. There will also be a very significant increase in funding for nutrition programs to make sure that no one in Vermont goes hungry. 
  • Vaccine Distribution: $27 million provided to Vermont for vaccine distribution. We save lives when we vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.  
  • Community Health Centers: A significant increase in funding for community health centers and the National Health Services Corps, ensuring over 155,000 Vermonters can continue to receive primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs – and that we will be able to expand these services. 
  • Support for Schools and Students: $352 million to help safely reopen Vermont schools and support our students, including a major increase in funding for summer and after school programming.

Read on to learn more about these specific legislative provisions, as well as how to access assistance.


Major Accomplishments of the $1.9 Trillion Relief Package

$1,400 Direct Payments to Working Families

Approximately 428,000 Vermont adults and 145,000 children — roughly 89% of the state’s population — will receive a direct payment. This amounts to over $345 million in direct benefits going to Vermonters. 

  • $1,400 direct payment to:
    • Individuals making $75,000 and under per year.
      • Individuals who make between $75,000 and $80,000 will receive a partial payment.
    • Individuals who file as head of household making $112,500 and under per year.
      • Individuals who make between $112,500 and $120,000 will receive a partial payment.
    • Couples making up to $150,000 per year.
      • Couples that make between $150,000 and $160,000 will receive a partial payment.
  • $1,400 direct payment per eligible child per household.

Information on how individuals will receive their economic impact payment will be made available on the IRS site here:


Expansion of the Child Tax Credit

This historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit will help 143,000 Vermont children.

  • Increases the child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000, and to $3,600 for families with children under the age of 6.
  • Makes the child tax credit fully refundable. 
  • Extends the child tax credit to 17 year-olds.

Many Vermonters have already filed their taxes, and I know many will have questions about how the provisions in this package affect their 2020 tax filing. It’s important that Vermonters know of the tax-help services available to them. For those who qualify, free tax assistance is available at locations throughout Vermont through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the IRS Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. To learn about eligibility requirements and find participating sites call 2-1-1 or visit:

Vermonters may also qualify to file both federal and state tax returns electronically for free — learn more here:


$1.35 Billion in Direct Aid to Vermont

Together with Senator Leahy and Congressman Welch, I worked to increase funding for Vermont in the state and local portion of the American Rescue Plan. This means that the state of Vermont and local governments will receive $1.35 billion to help in the response to the current health and economic crisis. This relief can be used for local economic recovery, assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, and infrastructure projects.

As important as this money is to Vermont, it is equally critical that the Vermont legislature and the governor work quickly to determine how best to allocate this federal aid. Know that I will assist them in this work in any way I can, to ensure the federal government can support the creation of state programs that truly help Vermonters. There is a lot of work ahead, but I have no doubt that together we will ensure this new $1.35 billion grant is used wisely and will help the greatest number of Vermonters possible.


Extended Federal Unemployment Insurance

As a result of this new law, 12,131 Vermonters are no longer at risk of losing their unemployment benefits, which have been extended through September 6, 2021. Importantly, this legislation also creates a tax exclusion, so that Vermonters who received unemployment income in 2020 do not have to pay taxes on up to $10,200 of that income. 

  • Extends the $300 increase in weekly unemployment benefits through September 6 through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program
  • Extends the expansion of unemployment insurance eligibility to part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
  • Extends the availability of additional weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits for workers who exhaust their state benefits through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program.
  • Creates a tax exclusion for unemployment insurance income: households making under $150,000 do not have to pay taxes on $10,200 of unemployment compensation income for 2020.

To learn more about your eligibility for unemployment benefits and to apply, visit the Vermont Department of Labor website here:


$202 Million for Rental, Mortgage, and Utility Assistance

$152 million will help Vermont families pay their rent and utilities. It is estimated that 50,000 Vermonters could qualify for this assistance. Additionally, $50 million will help Vermonters struggling to make their mortgage payments. 

  • $152 million in emergency rental assistance. 
  • $50 million in mortgage assistance.
    • Individuals and families will be able to use the funds for past due and future rent and mortgage payments, as well as utility and energy expenses. 
  • $20 million to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help low-income households heat and cool their homes.

Over the past year, the state of Vermont has implemented rental and utility assistance programs using federal CARES Act funds — the Rental Housing Stabilization Program, and the COVID-19 Arrearage Assistance Program. Since the passage of the December federal relief bill, the state has been working to modify these programs to utilize the new federal assistance. Once the programs re-launch, you will be able to find eligibility and application information on the Vermont State Housing Authority, and Vermont Department of Public Service, sites:

Information about how Vermonters can receive the new federal mortgage assistance will be available soon.

To apply for heating assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) call 1-800-479-6151 or visit:

To learn about existing help available to pay rent call the VT Economic Services Division’s Benefits Service Center at 1-800-479-6151, or call 2-1-1. To apply for existing emergency general assistance, including help for mortgage, rent, room rent, or temporary housing, visit: If you need legal advice regarding your housing situation call 1-800-889-2047 or fill out a request form here:


$27 Million for Vaccine Distribution

Here in Vermont, over 20% of Vermonters have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. While this is a huge milestone, there is a lot of work ahead of us, and this additional $27 million in federal funds will help get the safe and effective vaccine to people all across our state.

All Vermonters 65 or older can now get a COVID-19 vaccine. Vermonters 16 and older with certain high-risk health conditions are also able to make a vaccine appointment, as well as educators, school staff and public safety employees. Vermonters can make an appointment online at or by phone toll-free at 855-722-7878.

To stay up to date on the latest COVID guidance and information in Vermont, visit the Vermont Department of Health's site: You may also register for the State's emergency notification system, Vermont (VT-ALERT) to receive COVID-19 updates by visiting:


Increased Funding for Community Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps

The increased funding for community health centers and the National Health Services Corps will ensure that high-quality physical, mental, and oral health care services, along with affordable prescription drugs, remain available to 155,000 Vermonters. It will make it possible for us to expand these services, and to bring more needed health care workers to practice in Vermont. 

  • $7.6 billion for community health centers across our country. 
  • $800 million for the National Health Services Corps.

To find a community health center near you visit: To learn about free and low-cost health coverage plans and to receive help applying for insurance call the Vermont Health Care Advocate at 1-800-917-7787 or fill out an assistance request form here:


$352 Million to Help Reopen Schools and Support our Educators and Students 

Schools have faced extraordinary challenges over the past year in ensuring our students received quality education. Our young people have had to adapt to changing learning environments, including learning in remote and hybrid models. Far too many young people have struggled due to lost social and educational opportunities. The $350 million in education funding coming to Vermont will help our schools safely reopen for in-person learning and will help educators address the academic and emotional needs of our students. Importantly, a portion of these funds will be used to implement summer and after school programming. After such a difficult year, it is absolutely imperative that we do everything we can to help our young people.

  • $285 million to public K-12 schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund, with:
    • a minimum of $2.85 million being used for summer programming, and 
    • a minimum of $2.85 million being used for after school programming. 
  • $2.6 million to non-public schools through the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools program.
  • $65.1 million to colleges and universities through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, with a minimum of $32.5 million to be used to provide financial aid grants to students.

How Can We Help?

My Burlington office has a team of experienced caseworkers who help Vermonters navigate federal agencies every day. If you think my office can help you, please do not hesitate to call 1-800-339-9834 or (802) 862-0697, or click here

If you would like to share your thoughts on pending legislation, or if you have an idea that we could address through new legislation, click here