CT lawmakers celebrate Kamala Harris visit, saying ‘help is here’ in the the American Rescue Plan

Photo of Ben Lambert

NEW HAVEN — “Help is here,” U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said Friday.

That help was not, specifically, Vice President Kamala Harris, who would then arrive in the city following DeLauro’s remarks.

But she would herald it, as officials gathered to tout the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package aimed to aid families and communities in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, along with DeLauro and Mayor Justin Elicker, celebrated Harris’ visit to New Haven, as they stood outside the Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy Friday afternoon and touted the impact of the rescue plan.

The recently-passed bill, along with food assistance, rental aid, funds for municipalities and money for the vaccination effort, among other measures, includes $1,400 checks for people earning less than $75,000 per year and expands the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,000.

“This is a big moment for our city and our state,” said Elicker, noting that Harris’ visit demonstrated the importance of New Haven and the impact of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation. “I’m grateful for our partnership, the folks that are standing behind me, to lead us at this moment when our nation is really struggling.”

DeLauro said, “She’s here today to put a spotlight on, as we are... the American Rescue Plan, because help is here.”

“It’s putting money in people’s pockets; putting vaccine in their arms; putting kids back to school safely; conquering the pandemic; putting America back to work,” said Blumenthal, saying the measure demonstrated the effectiveness of government. “There are real-life consequences to this historic step.”

DeLauro emphasized the importance of the Child Tax Credit expansion, saying it would lift half of children out of poverty across the country and one-third in Connecticut.

In response to a question, she said she believed the expansion would be made permanent once its impact was felt. The pandemic, she said, along with the Democratic majority, had made the idea more relevant, which she had been pushing for for more than a decade.

“First of all, times change: it’s been an 18-year battle to do this. Times change, the environment changes, the players change... several years ago, nobody was talking about a child tax credit. They thought that this was on the fringe; now, it is the center of public discourse,” said DeLauro. “I also believe that the pandemic has shone a light on (not only) the health disparities and inequities we have, but the economic disparities and inequities that we have.”

Murphy said a family of four in the Hill neighborhood would likely receive an additional $7,600 this year through the plan — “life-changing” money for many, he said.

“And guess where that money is going to go? Right back into this neighborhood... (Harris) is going to be able to see, first hand, the virtuous cycle set off by the American Rescue Plan,” said Murphy. “We are going to be creative and bold in the way that we spend these dollars to make sure that we lift kids up in the short-term and in the long run.”

Blumenthal, in addition to celebrating the stimulus package, said he would talk to Harris about the importance of addressing gun violence, describing it as a public health epidemic.

He said he had spoken earlier in the day to Guilford resident Kristin Song, the mother of Ethan Song, who died from an accidental gunshot at the age of 15.

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes also issued a statement celebrating Harris’ visit to the region, saying she was “thrilled to welcome Vice President Harris to our state to meet some of the people who have helped our communities navigate this pandemic.”

“Families and small businesses were hard hit — including the child care industry, where many providers were forced to close their doors,” Hayes said in a statement. “The American Rescue Plan serves as a vital lifeline for my constituents and these essential businesses. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the Administration to get people the help they need.”

Harris visited the Boys & Girls Club of New Haven for a listening session, then the West Haven Child Development Center Friday.

Gov. Ned Lamont was expected to announce expanded subsidies for child care in Connecticut during Harris’ visit.

Check back for updates.