The House Acts to Address the Growing Fallout from the Coronavirus Crisis—Senate Should Pass Immediately

The following statement can be attributed to Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

Washington, D.C., May 15, 2020—This evening, the House passed The “HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act,” an emergency relief bill that will help to stem the dire economic and public health crisis facing millions of families and individuals as well as states and localities dealing with the enormous fallout from this pandemic. The scale of the devastation requires a major federal response, and The HEROES Act represents such a response. While it does not include every important investment needed to heal the damage, it provides crucial economic, nutrition, and health supports and fills in major gaps in earlier responses that left out millions of people now facing hunger, ill health, and economic ruin. The Senate must pass this legislation quickly, with a sense of urgency commensurate with the devastation that is already underway among families and communities.

We applaud the House for taking decisive action to push forward Congress’s response to the health and economic effects of the Coronavirus crisis. The bill will help families who are struggling by including expanded paid sick days and family and medical leave for workers, fixes to provisions in the CARES Act that prevented millions of people—including nearly 4 million U.S. citizen children—from receiving financial assistance and COVID-19 testing and treatment, an increase in SNAP benefits and provisions to address the hunger crisis, a next round of financial supports and extended unemployment insurance coverage, and support for state and local governments that would otherwise be forced to cut crucial services and lay off workers, deepening the economic damage. It also provides funding for higher education, child care, workforce development, and a range of other programs that will be a critical piece of the nation’s financial recovery.

While the passage of this bill is a win for many communities in need, more action is needed to ensure that those who have been the hardest hit by this pandemic are able to recover. Congress must address the barriers to opportunity that have made recovery even more difficult for communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the public health and economic crisis. We also need comprehensive investments to fully stabilize the nation’s struggling child care system, support individuals impacted by the criminal justice system, and meet the mental health needs of people around the country.

The Senate must take immediate and swift action to pass The HEROES ACT, the next step in the federal response to coronavirus.

As the Senate considers what to include in the next response package, we ask Senators to join the House and act quickly to meet the needs of children, adults, and families with low incomes. The country cannot wait weeks or months for the next relief bill—Congress must act now.