Press Release

Castor: Updated House Heroes Act Should Prod Senate to Act on COVID-19 Emergency Aid

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Washington, September 29, 2020 | comments

“Following months of Senate inaction, House Democrats have released an updated proffer to ensure that needed federal emergency aid will again be made available for children, families, frontline workers, small businesses, restaurants, schools, health care workers and more. Our schools, neighbors, small businesses, airport and restaurant workers need help now. I will continue to fight every day to speed relief home as I did with the CARES Act.

“Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise. We passed the Heroes Act months ago to address the ongoing health and economic crises facing working families, but the GOP-controlled Senate hit the pause button. The virus and the needs of our neighbors have not paused, so we will stand up again to press the Senate to join us in meeting the needs of hard-working Americans.

“It is critical to crush this virus. With an uptick of COVID-19 cases and impending flu season, the House package provides resources for a comprehensive strategy for testing and supplies. If we can get this passed, hopefully Trump will quit downplaying the impact and risks of the virus. In this proffer, the $75 billion in the Heroes Act now will also include an additional $28 billion for procurement and distribution of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine.

“Trump and Republican governors like DeSantis have insisted that children across the country return to school without the proper resources to ensure our students and teachers can return safely. This proffer includes an additional $225 billion for education and child care in addition to what was included in the Heroes Act. I’ve heard the needs and concerns of our school district, our teachers, other important school workers and parents. This aid will go a long way in helping Hillsborough County Schools to address current needs, including layoffs, virtual learning equipment, free meals for students, and personal protective equipment.

“I’m also pleased that Tampa International Airport and others around the country will benefit from an extension of the Payroll Support Program that keeps airline industry workers paid. This updated provision along with an improved Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will deliver targeted assistance for hard-hit small businesses like the mom and pop stores we all love in Tampa as well as the restaurant and live event industry.

“This proffer is an attempt to ensure we serve the American people’s immediate needs while we attempt to get Trump and Republican Senate leaders to negotiate with us.  I call once more on my Senate colleagues and Trump to join us at the table and help me send aid right on home to those who are in need.”

To address needs that have arisen since the House first acted, the updated $2.2 trillion legislation includes:

  • Strong support for small businesses, by improving the Paycheck Protection Program to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits, 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 child care, with $225 billion for education – including $182 billion for K-12 schools and nearly $39 billion for postsecondary education – and $57 billion to support child care for families.

 

In addition, it maintains key priorities from the version of the legislation that passed the House in May. Among the bill’s many provisions, it:

  • 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.

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