Press Release

U.S. Rep. Castor Statement on House Passage of Fifth Congressional COVID-19 Emergency Aid Package- the Heroes Act

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Washington, May 15, 2020 | comments

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor released the following statement after House passage of the Heroes Act. The Heroes Act is the fifth coronavirus aid emergency package passed by the House of Representatives.

“The Heroes Act will speed much-needed assistance to Tampa Bay area frontline heroes, communities and families.  Many of our neighbors are hurting.  They need assistance with day-to-day realities like paying the rent, taking care of children and putting food on the table. The Heroes Act will help.

“As state and local budgets collapse, we need to keep our heroes - police, firefighters, teachers, postal service and frontline health workers - on the job to keep us safe. In order to reopen our economy, we also need a strong and rapid testing framework, so we direct the Administration to bring order to the chaos and get the supplies to communities as fast as possible, and in a strategic way as the science dictates. Yesterday, Dr. Rick Bright testified before my committee that the Administration’s slow-walking, indifference and lack of an overarching strategy had cost lives.  People need to feel safe and secure before returning to work and school, and widespread testing is the only way we can have confidence in reopening our shops, schools and events while prioritizing public health.

“It is disappointing to hear that Senate Republicans downplay the urgent need to support families, small businesses, students and our brave first responders.  Economists and scientists are advising policymakers to act swiftly.  Otherwise, the pain could be deeper and longer-lasting. I hear the calls for action from my neighbors, local community leaders, families and small businesses. I will not let them down.”

The Heroes Act:

  • Honors our heroes, by providing nearly $1 trillion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments who desperately need funds to pay vital workers like first responders, health workers, and teachers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs.
  • Speeds $562m to Hillsborough County and $154m to Tampa through the Local Coronavirus relief fund to pay vital workers like first responders, health workers, and teachers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs. An additional $350m is allotted for the Tampa Bay area in 2021.
  • Establishes a $200b Heroes’ Fund for essential workers to ensure that essential workers who have risked their lives working during the pandemic receive hazard pay.
  • Supports testing, tracing and treatment, by providing another $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers.
  • Provides additional direct payments, cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a second round of more substantial economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household.
  • Protects payrolls, by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit that encourages employers to keep employees on payroll, allowing 60 million Americans to remain connected to their paychecks and benefits.
  • Safeguards our democracy, with new resources including $183m for Florida to ensure safe elections, and funds for an accurate Census and to preserve the Postal Service.
  • Provides $100 billion for the Department of Education to help educational institutions with providing PPE, sanitizing and cleaning schools and school transportation, and providing support, including counseling and mental health services for students and staff.
  • Offers up to $10,000 in student debt relief for more than 20 million federal student loan borrowers with the greatest need and provides full relief to student loan borrowers who were defrauded by their institution.
  • Supports small businesses and nonprofits, by strengthening the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes and types and responds flexibly to small businesses by providing $10 billion for Covid-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
  • Preserves health coverage, by protecting Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance with COBRA subsidies to maintain their coverage and creating a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans.
  • Extends unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed.
  • Bolsters housing assistance, helping struggling families afford a safe place to live with $175 billion in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs.
  • Allocates $150 million to help states establish and implement strike teams to help skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes manage outbreaks when they occur.
  • Sets national nursing home safety and quality protections and increases data reporting to improve standards of care and transparency of COVID-19 cases.
  • 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.
  • 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, and prevents employers from retaliating against workers who report infection control problems.
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