Sunday, May 22

Yellen: COVID-19 aid funds will help US withstand Ukraine war economic turmoil

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DENVER — US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday the US economy is better prepared to weather economic turbulence from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package passed a year ago.

Yellen, speaking at a Denver social services agency on the first anniversary of the American Rescue Plan, (ARP) said the United States is now much better able to withstand unforeseen crises — such as the war in Ukraine — than it was a year ago.

“Our world is interconnected, and our ambition to ensure that Russia pays a high price for its unprovoked invasion has already impacted us at home,” Yellen said, referring to a steep surge in energy prices.

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“America is better able to handle these turbulent times because our economy is historically strong, and the American economy is historically strong because of the ARP and the resiliency of the American people,” Yellen said.

The ARP provided direct payments to Americans, funding for schools and increased COVID-19 responses and rental assistance, as well as a $350 million fund to assist state and local governments.

With congressional negotiations on the Biden administration’s ambitious social and climate spending package stalled, state and local funding has emerged as the Biden administration’s main social policy tool channeling funding to local programs aimed at achieving similar goals, such as child care, education and affordable housing.

She said the program has provided overtime and premium pay for over 740,000 essential workers, supplementing their regular wages.

Yellen said that the ARP spending “acted like a vaccine for the American economy, ensuring that we were inoculated from the possibility of new variants or unforeseen circumstances.” (Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Sandra Maler)