Congressman Joe Courtney held a tele-town hall Wednesday evening to answer constituent calls about the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Courtney, the Democrat representing Connecticut’s second congressional district, took questions on everything from childcare providers and vaccine distribution to special education and PPE manufacturing.
Education issues came up throughout the call, with one caller from Mystic, who said his daughter has experienced significant learning loss from not being at school in-person, asking Courtney about whether the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will help mitigate learning loss.
“My heart goes out to you,” responded Courtney, who said the competing demands placed on parents throughout the pandemic have been overwhelming. The congressman suggested that funds from the American Rescue Plan could be used to create more robust summer programs to combat learning loss, and said to “stay tuned” on updates from the state Department of Education to see how they use the new federal funds.
A caller from Groton asked about whether American Rescue Plan funds will help support schools facing new, expensive needs as they reopen amid the pandemic.
“The Rescue Plan follows up the CARES Act and the December COVID relief bill with some new money to help the school districts deal with the totally unexpected and extraordinary expenses in terms of opening up safely and protecting people’s health,” Courtney said. “The allotment for Groton is over 7 million dollars, on top of the prior allotments that came in from the CARES Act.”
Courtney said the most recent allocation of funds requires school districts to use the money for COVID-related expenses, like plexiglass, HVAC upgrades, and additional staff to allow for socially distanced, in-person learning.
The congressman also shared an update from a hearing earlier in the day related to student debt, which he said he left feeling optimistic that his proposal to lower interest rates on federal student loans could have support from both sides of the aisle. He also said that student debt forgiveness of up to $10,000 has support from President Biden and many in Congress, though he was less optimistic about the prospects for forgiving more than that amount of debt.
Courtney also responded to a caller from Lebanon who asked about rental assistance, which the congressman said is one of the top issues he hears about from constituents. Connecticut will receive about $250 million for rental assistance from the most recent relief bill, and Courtney said his team has been pushing for housing resource centers in Eastern Connecticut to ensure those in need can access the funds.
Callers also asked about when they can expect to receive stimulus checks, which Courtney’s office shared can be tracked on the IRS website. Constituents can watch the recorded town hall on Courtney’s Facebook page or website.