Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 925, an updated version of The Heroes Act, which includes $2.2 trillion to further address the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Updated Heroes Act is the legislation we need to ensure our nation meets the health and economic challenges of the pandemic.” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. “This legislation is a necessary step to further address our ongoing battle against COVID-19 and to help Connecticut municipalities, families, workers, school districts, small businesses and our postal service.
“Our focus in this legislation is to ensure local communities can continue to provide lifesaving services, and critical protections for essential and frontline workers; provide students and schools districts with needed resources; support working families; and shore up struggling small businesses, which are the economic lifelines for our communities.
“The House passed the original Heroes Act in May and has worked to move that bill forward over the last four months. Unfortunately, the Senate did not take up that proposal. This bill is another good faith effort to compromise and it is my hope the Senate will take up this bill as quickly as possible so Congress can deliver to American families the relief they deserve during such a difficult time.”
The Updated Heroes Act offers:
- Strong support for small businesses, by improving the Paycheck Protection Program to serve the smallest businesses and struggling nonprofits, providing hard-hit businesses with second loans, and delivering targeted assistance for the struggling restaurant industry and independent live venue operators.
- Additional assistance for airline industry workers, extending the highly successful Payroll Support Program to keep airline industry workers paid.
- More funds to bolster education and childcare, with $225 billion for education – including $182 billion for K-12 schools and nearly $39 billion for postsecondary education – and $57 billion to support childcare for families.
In addition, it maintains key priorities from the legislation that passed the House in May. Among the bill’s many provisions, it does the following:
- Honors our heroes, through $436 billion to provide one year’s worth of assistance to state, local, territorial and tribal governments who desperately need funds to pay vital workers like first responders and health workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs.
- Supports testing, tracing and treatment, through $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, with special attention to the disparities facing communities of color, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers. The updated bill also includes $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine.
- Provides additional direct payments, cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a more robust second round of economic impact payments of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent.
- Protects payrolls, by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit that encourages employers to keep employees on payroll.
- Ensures worker safety, by requiring OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise.
- Preserves health coverage, protecting Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance by making unemployed Americans automatically receive the maximum ACA subsidy on the exchanges, as well as a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans.
- Restores unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January and preventing unemployed workers from exhausting their eligibility, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed, including those connected to the gig-economy.
- Bolsters housing assistance, helping struggling families afford a safe place to live with tens of billions in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs – preventing homelessness.
- Strengthens food security, addressing rising hunger with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table as well as targeted support for farmers and producers impacted by the crisis.
- Safeguards our democracy, with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service.
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.
Currently serving her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.