Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today voted to pass the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800), a critical relief package to address the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency and provide desperately needed support for American families, essential workers, small businesses, hospitals, health care providers and state and local governments.
“As American families continue to struggle amid the economic downturn created by this pandemic, we must strengthen our efforts to save lives, protect financial livelihoods and help our communities get to the other side of this public health crisis,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “The Heroes Act will provide wide-ranging relief to all corners of the country, including support to state and local governments that are reeling from COVID-related revenue shortfalls.”
Sarbanes, who has led efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to ensure safe and accessible elections, concluded: “The Heroes Act also provides desperately needed funding to help states conduct free and fair elections that protect the health of voters and poll workers by expanding opportunities to vote-by-mail and by helping local election administrations implement safe in-person voting. In a democracy, voting is an essential activity. This relief package will ensure that Americans can cast their ballots and have their voices heard – even under these trying circumstances.”
Key provisions of the Heroes Act include:
- Shoring Up State and Local Governments: $1 trillion for state, local, territorial and tribal governments to help pay for vital workers – including police officers, firefighters, emergency responders, health care workers, sanitation personnel and teachers – who deliver critical services to the American people and help keep our communities safe.
- Supporting America’s Essential Workers: $200 billion to provide hazard pay to essential workers who have risked their lives delivering goods and services to the American people during the pandemic.
- Expanding Testing, Tracing and Treatment: $75 billion for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, additional support for hospitals and health care providers and resources to ensure that every American can access free coronavirus treatment.
- Increasing Direct Relief to American Families: Provides a second round of robust economic impact payments to help Americans weather the economic blow of the pandemic, including $1,200 per family member and up to $6,000 per household.
- Protecting Payrolls: Helps businesses keep employees on the payroll by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit, which would allow 60 million Americans to continue receiving paychecks and benefits.
- Boosting Unemployment Benefits: Extends weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through January 2021.
- Ensuring Worker Safety: Requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue strong, enforceable standards for workplaces to implement infection control plans based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who report infection control problems.
- Ensuring Safe and Accessible Elections: $3.6 billion to help states conduct free, fair and safe elections by expanding no-excuse absentee voting, early voting and vote-by-mail efforts and by delivering critical resources to protect the health and safety of voters and poll workers.
- Supporting Small Businesses and Nonprofits: Strengthens the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all types and sizes, and provides $10 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
- Protecting Americans’ Health Coverage: Helps Americans keep their employer-provided health insurance with COBRA subsidies and creates a special enrollment period for uninsured Americans to sign up for health coverage.
- Aiding Public Education: $90 billion to support state and local public education, including summer learning, afterschool programs, distance learning, emergency financial aid for college students and resources to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom.
- Bolstering Housing Assistance: $175 billion to help struggling families afford a safe place to live, help renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and support other housing-related costs.
- Strengthening Food Security: Increases the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit by 15 percent and provides additional funding for nutrition programs to address rising hunger and help families put food on the table.
- Protecting the U.S. Postal Service (USPS): Authorizes $25 billion in emergency funding to help USPS maintain critical delivery services for the American people and protect the health and safety of postal workers.