U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn today issued the following statement on House passage of the Heroes Act:
“There is an urgent need for Congress to continue our response to the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The House today passed the Heroes Act to further address the challenges Americans are facing, and I urge the Senate to join us in approving this vital emergency package.
“Our most urgent need, as highlighted by health experts during this week’s Select Committee briefing, is to invest in testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment. This legislation commits another $75 million to reopening our country safely, based on the guidance of medical experts.
“Our heroes are also an important focus of this legislation. The best way to support our frontline workers like health care professionals, police, fire, transportation, EMS, and teachers is to provide resources to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments who employ these vital workers who keep us safe. The Heroes Act provides nearly $1 trillion to support these critical services and establishes a $200 billion Heroes’ fund to provide hazard pay to the essential workers who are risking their lives.
“American families are suffering during this crisis through no fault of their own, and this legislation provides a second round of direct payments of up to $6,000 per household and extends weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January.
“Small businesses, underserved communities, and nonprofits that previously struggled to get support through the Payroll Protection Program will benefit from measures in this legislation to strengthen the program and from an additional $10 billion investment in COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
“I am particularly pleased this bill includes investments in initiatives that are needed to address systemic challenges that have been laid bare by this crisis resulting in inequitable impacts in our society. I have long advocated for making this country’s greatness accessible and affordable. This legislation takes steps toward that goal by investing in programs to make broadband, education, health care, housing, and nutrition accessible and affordable for all Americans.
“To enhance students’ ability to learn remotely, this bill provides $1.5 billion for schools and libraries to purchase internet connectivity, hotspots and devices like tablets to give students the tools to learn in this new environment. In addition, the bill provides $4 billion to make internet service more affordable throughout the end of the pandemic.
“As we seek to connect families to the internet, we must also safeguard another important lifeline connecting us: the Postal Service. The Heroes Act includes $25 billion to ensure that letters and packages continue to be sent and received anywhere, as they have for much of our nation’s history.
“This legislation provides $90 billion for State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for Education grants to K-12 and public postsecondary institutions to support the delivery of instruction, continuation of staff employment, and student support. It also includes more than $10 billion in direct emergency funding for higher education institutions, including $1.7 billion for Historically Black Colleges and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
“Student loan debt relief is also included in this bill, which suspends all federal student loan payments, interest accrual, and involuntary collections through September 2021, and provides up to $10,000 for economically-distressed federal borrowers.
“To support the health care needs in our communities, the Heroes Act provides COBRA subsidies and a special enrollment period in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces for those without insurance. It also provides an increase in support to states’ Medicaid programs to ensure they can shoulder the increased enrollment in the program due to the loss of jobs and health insurance.
“A home is so important in this time of social distancing, and this bill provides $175 billion in new financial support to assist renters and homeowners make monthly payments for rent, mortgages and utilities, as well as other housing-related costs.
“Access to food is a primary concern during this pandemic. This legislation increases the maximum SNAP benefit by 15 percent to help families put food on the table. An additional $3 billion is also provided in this bill to continue supporting school meal distribution and the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.
“Finally, our country must safeguard our democracy during this unprecedented time. The Heroes Act provides $3.6 billion to ensure safe elections in 2020 and $40 million to ensure an accurate Census count, which determines political representation and how critical resources are dispersed over the next decade.
“Our nation is facing extraordinary challenges due the coronavirus, but we are resilient. The Heroes Act is an emergency package needed to respond with the urgency required to meet these unparalleled times. We need an effective, efficient and equitable response that is comprehensive and coordinated, and the Heroes Act is an important next step toward our nation’s recovery.