House Passes Urgently Needed COVID-19 Relief Bill Addressing Economic and Health Crises
Washington, D.C., October 2, 2020 – Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an updated version of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or the Heroes Act. Our nation urgently needs the revised bill to fund critically important public health needs and provide fiscal relief to people, families, and states across the country. With over 200,000 dead from the coronavirus, millions unemployed, and countless lives upended, the nation cannot wait any longer for relief. To date, Senate Republicans have proposed only narrow legislation that fails to respond to the scale of the crisis. Lawmakers should come together to pass a robust COVID-19 package along the lines of the updated Heroes Act.
“With devastating illness and death, widespread food insecurity, and record unemployment, it’s long past time to get help to the American people,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “The updated Heroes Act would address the devastating circumstances of so many households in this country, in particular people of color and immigrant families who have been disproportionately harmed as this unprecedented crisis has deepened historic and systemic racial inequities.”
The revised version of the Heroes Act includes provisions essential to the wellbeing of people with low incomes. The Act:
- Expands the emergency coronavirus-related paid sick days and paid family and medical leave to include millions of workers—primarily those earning low wages who are predominantly women, people of color, and immigrants—who were left out of previous legislation. It also extends the leave through February 2021. These provisions are essential to ensuring public health and preventing all workers from having to choose between their health and their jobs.
- Includes an additional round of direct economic stimulus payments for taxpayers and their dependents. Importantly, millions of immigrant workers and their citizen children, as well as older dependents, who were excluded from the first round of stimulus payments would be eligible for these payments.
- Increases the maximum SNAP benefit by 15 percent to help people put food on the table as food insecurity is skyrocketing.
- Restores enhanced unemployment benefits that provide unemployed workers an additional $600 dollars per week of support.
- Provides much-needed fiscal relief for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to prevent public sector layoffs and devastating cuts in essential public programs.
- Invests $57 billion in the child care sector to provide relief for providers and parents and to aid the survival of this vital sector.
- Invests $39 billion in postsecondary education, including $27 billion for public institutions to provide emergency financial aid to postsecondary students and $3.5 billion to support historically black colleges and universities, minority-serving institutions, and their students.
- Provides $3.7 billion to support workforce development and worker protection activities related to coronavirus.
- Invests $8.5 billion in increased mental health and substance abuse services to address the widespread mental health crisis caused by the pandemic and the recession.
Americans needed relief yesterday. The updated Heroes Act would be a critical down payment on addressing the devastating public health crisis and crippling recession that is severely harming communities of color.