Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today voted to pass an updated version of the Heroes Act, a comprehensive bill that would provide immediate relief to American families, small businesses, schools, essential workers, health care providers and state and local governments.
“For more than four months, the Trump White House and Senate Republicans have stalled efforts to deliver urgently needed support to the American people as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Once again, House Democrats have taken decisive action to meet the needs of American families and help our communities get to the other side of this unprecedented public health emergency.”
Sarbanes, a longtime and leading voice in the U.S. House of Representatives for safe and secure elections, continued: “Importantly, this latest round of COVID-19 relief would authorize critical resources for states and local jurisdictions across the country to help keep voters and poll workers safe, improve the delivery of mail ballots and strengthen mail-ballot processing as we head into the general election.”
Key provisions of the updated Heroes Act include:
- Supporting State and Local Government Services: $436 billion for state, local, tribal and territorial governments to help pay for vital services and workers – including firefighters, teachers, emergency responders, health care workers and sanitation personnel.
- Expanding COVID-19 Testing, Tracing and Treatment to Stop the Virus and Reopen Safely: $75 billion for testing, contact tracing and isolation measures – with added attention to communities of color, which have been disproportionally harmed by the virus – and additional support for hospitals and health care providers to help provide free coronavirus treatment to every American.
- Boosting Vaccine Development and Distribution: $28 billion to help produce and distribute a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine in every community across the country.
- Helping Schools, Students and Teachers: $225 billion for education – including $182 billion for K-12 schools, $39 billion for postsecondary education institutions and $57 billion for child care programs and services.
- Sending a New Round of Direct Payments to American Families: $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent.
- Providing Additional Relief to Small Businesses: Improves the Paycheck Protection Program to better serve small businesses and nonprofits, and delivers targeted relief to struggling industries, such as restaurants, airlines and independent live venue operators.
- Protecting Payrolls: Helps businesses keep employees on the payroll to continue receiving paychecks and benefits.
- Ensuring Worker Safety: Requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue strong and enforceable worker protections and infection control standards.
- Renewing Unemployment Benefits: Extends weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through January 2021 to support the record number of unemployed Americans affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic.
- Bolstering Housing Assistance: Delivers tens of billions of dollars in rental, mortgage and utility assistance, along with vital funding for homelessness prevention efforts.
- Strengthening Nutrition Assistance: Increases funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and supports programs that help families keep food on the table.
- Ensuring Safe and Secure Elections: $3.6 billion to help states conduct free, fair and safe elections and $15 billion to support the U.S. Postal Service.