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Congressman Nadler Floor Remarks Supporting the Heroes Act, H.R. 6800

Washington, May 15, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act, which provides meaningful economic relief to millions of Americans, funds efforts to safeguard our elections and reduce stress on our criminal justice system, and delivers needed support to workers battling the virus on the front lines:

"I rise today in support of the Heroes Act, which will provide much-needed relief to the people of New York and the country.

"We find ourselves at a critical moment – more than 1 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, nearly 85,000 people have died, 36 million Americans are out of work. This critical moment calls for critical action, action which the Federal Reserve has asked Congress to take to avoid long-term economic consequences. The Heroes Act represents the strongest bill yet to help millions of American families, provide a real public health response to this emergency, and keep our state and local governments afloat.

"I have heard from thousands of my constituents over the last few months as New York has been in the epicenter of this pandemic. They are scared about how to pay the bills, worried about the lack of testing and equipment, and stressed about what the future may hold. While this bill is not perfect, it goes far to address those concerns and ensure that New Yorkers and all Americans have some peace of mind.

"State and local governments will see nearly $1 trillion in funding to fill the massive gaps in their budgets and prevent huge cuts to critical services. For New York State and New York City, this funding will mean the difference between recovery and total economic collapse. Additionally, the bill addresses many of the concerns small businesses raised about how the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs were operating. The bill extends PPP’s eight week timeframe to 24 weeks and takes other steps to makes loan forgiveness much easier to achieve for the millions of small business owners who received funding. PPP and the Federal Reserve Main St. Lending Program will also now cover nonprofits, which are the backbone of New York’s economy, and housing cooperatives will also be eligible for PPP. The USPS, which has been a lifeline for American families and small businesses during the pandemic, will also receive a much needed $25 billion to keep services running through the pandemic.

"I am proud that this bill includes two pieces of legislation I introduced: the COVID-19 Correctional Facility Emergency Response Act, to support state and local governments for testing, treatment, and prevention of COVID-19 in correctional facilities, and the Public Safety Office Pandemic Response Act, which will make sure brave first responders who die or become disabled due to COVID-19 can access the benefits they deserve. I am also proud to see this bill includes many priorities for the Judiciary Committee, including additional funding for VAWA programs to address the surge in domestic violence happening during the lockdown, additional funding for Legal Aid and local law enforcement, and a ban on price gouging. These provisions will protect the most vulnerable among us and ensure that first responders have the support they need.  

"I am pleased to see this bill includes $75 billion in homeowners assistance and $100 billion in rental assistance, funding I have been fighting for since the pandemic began. Thirty percent of renters did not pay their April rent and while an eviction moratorium is vitally important, we must provide options to people who cannot afford their rent. This bill also includes an additional round of $1,200 direct payments and expands who is eligible for payments while making them easier to access. While I continue to support larger and more sustained direct payments, this second round of funds will be a vital source of funds for millions of Americans. As more Americans see their jobs disappear or their hours reduced, this bill provides $15 billion in funding for nutrition programs and finally increases the minimum SNAP benefit to ensure that Americans can access healthy food during the pandemic. The unemployment provisions of the CARES Act will also be extended through January 2021 and states will be granted more flexibility to make sure these funds get out the door as quickly as possible. As parents, teachers, and kids struggle to adapt to at-home learning, the Heroes Act provides $90 billion in funds to help with distance learning and address the impacts of long-term closure. Frontline and essential workers, which must include the door staff who work in thousands of New York apartment buildings every day, will also receive hazard pay for putting their lives on the line to keep our country running.

"A public health emergency like this requires a coordinated response, which the Administration has failed to provide at every level. With the Heroes Act, Congress will step up and finally provide a well-funded, science-based, coordinated approach. The bill sets up a national strategy for testing and contact tracing through local public health agencies to work on the ground to stop the spread and establishes a national coordinator for PPE distribution who has experience with logistics and health care. The bill also ensures that no one has to pay out-of-pocket costs for testing or treatment of COVID-19 regardless of their insurance. Finally, the bill opens a Special Enrollment Period for Medicare and the Affordable Care Act to make sure everyone has access to affordable health insurance and funds “strike teams” to respond to outbreaks in long-term care facilities like nursing homes.

"This bill is not perfect. There is more we must do to keep people safe and healthy and, when the time comes, to get our economy moving again. But the Heroes Act represents our strongest, most-focused effort yet to ensure that every American has the support they need to keep their families safe and healthy, that frontline health care workers have the resources they need to keep fighting this virus, and that our small businesses can re-open when it is safe."

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