Courtney Votes to Pass Historic Bipartisan COVID-19 Aid Package, the HEROES Act
May 15, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800). The HEROES Act is a bold and comprehensive bill that would authorize urgently needed funding to address the Coronavirus health and economic crisis. The HEROES Act is the fifth COVID-19 aid package that the House has passed on a bipartisan basis, and would commit another $75 billion towards testing, tracing and treatment in order to safely and efficiently reopen the economy, and would provide strong support for essential workers, state and local governments – especially those in smaller cities and rural areas – small businesses, and more. H.R. 6800 now awaits consideration in the U.S. Senate.
“Last Wednesday, the Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, bluntly warned that the gravity of the COVID-19 recession – worse than any recession since World War II – requires more fiscal action by Congress, and soon,” said Congressman Courtney. “Additional fiscal support could be costly, but it’s worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery. This package is targeted at bolstering families, communities, and critical services provided by frontline workers who have been keeping our nation going. Nurses, first responders, grocery store workers, janitors, and shipyard workers, to name just a few, deserve more than just our thanks. They need financial support to keep the lights on in our economy.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Courtney issued a statement supporting the HEROES Act, highlighting that the bill would authorize $200 billion in hazard pay for essential workers in key sectors who have labored throughout the pandemic – including many shipbuilders, like those working at the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton. The HEROES Act would also provide nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments, including $87.5 billion that will specifically be directed and expedited towards small and rural municipalities with populations of 50,000 or less.
Among its many provisions, the HEROES Act:
• Provides 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. Under the proposed bill, Connecticut would receive over $7 billion in Coronavirus relief funding in 2020, and over $4.7 billion in 2021;
• Secures $87.5 billion in funding specifically for small and rural municipalities with populations of 50,000 and under;
• Establishes a Heroes’ Fund for essential workers, with nearly $200 billion to ensure that essential workers in key sectors who have labored throughout the pandemic – including shipbuilders who are working in a shipyard performing shipbuilding or repair work under contract or subcontract to DOD for military or other national security purposes – 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;
• 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;
• Supports small businesses and nonprofits, by strengthening the Paycheck 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;
• 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;
• Safeguards our democracy, with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service
The HEROES Act is the fifth bipartisan COVID-19 response bill that the House has passed. Today’s passage of H.R. 6800 follows the passage and signing into law of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The House also passed H.R. 266, another bipartisan bill that provided stop-gap funding to important CARES Act programs, and expanded them to farmers.
On Tuesday, May 19th, Rep. Courtney will host a live Telephone Town Hall conference call with residents from across Connecticut’s Second Congressional District to talk more about resources that are available now, and to hear directly from constituents about the additional support they need.