The Heroes Act: Charting a Path Towards Recovery
Washington, May 20, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis is unlike any that we've ever faced as a nation before. It has roiled our economy, killed tens of thousands, and changed the daily lives of every American. If we hope to adequately respond to a crisis as vast and sweeping as this, we must put forth proposals that are as comprehensive as the pandemic they seek to counter. The Heroes Act, which I proudly sponsored, aims to do just that.
As the epicenter of the global COVID-19 pandemic, New York City has suffered tremendously over the past months. As we work to respond to the health and economic impacts of this crisis, it is crucial that New York be prioritized and receive the support it so desperately needs.
I proudly voted for the Heroes Act, the House's latest relief and stimulus package in response to the COVID crisis, because it includes provisions that will be instrumental to New York’s recovery. New York State and City will be able to access nearly $1 trillion in funding available to state and local governments, funds which could make the difference between recovery and total economic collapse. The Heroes Act sets billions more aside for economic needs important to New Yorkers; with $75 billion in homeowners assistance, $100 billion in rental assistance and $25 billion to support the U.S. Postal Service, which is so vital to so many in our city and state. The Heroes Act also finally establishes a nation-wide, science-based plan for testing and contact tracing, which is the only way our economy can safely reopen. The bill also allocates nearly $200 million to New York in election assistance grants, which will ensure New Yorkers can participate in upcoming elections without placing themselves at risk, and millions more specifically earmarked for New York’s educational agencies. While the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is only just beginning, please know that I will continue to fight for New Yorkers’ economic and physical health every day.
Ensuring Judiciary Committee Priorities Are Included in the Heroes Act
As Congress strives to support our nation’s hard-hit small businesses and protect essential workers, it’s crucial to remember that some of the institutions and people most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic fall squarely under my jurisdiction as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. That’s why, as we drafted the Heroes Act, I fought hard to ensure that this urgently needed legislation included provisions important to the Committee’s priorities. Working closely with House leadership, other Committee chairs, and Judiciary Committee Members, the Heroes Act includes billions in funding for our elections, the safety of our prisons and immigration detention facilities, and expanded public safety officer death and disability benefits so as to include first responders who get sick or die from COVID-19.
As we consider the possibility of holding elections under unprecedented conditions, I’m especially pleased that the Heroes Act sets aside $3.6 billion so that state and local governments can access the resources and devise the protocols necessary to hold fair, safe, Democratic elections in the midst of a pandemic. And with prisons and jails dangerous incubators for the spread of COVID-19, I’m proud that the Heroes Act provides hundreds of millions in funding to provide testing and treatment of COVID-19 for incarcerated individuals and to decrease the strain on our prisons by releasing low-risk incarcerated individuals. It also includes key protections and safety measures for those held in ICE detention facilities, guaranteeing access to hygiene products and communication with counsel while expediting release for individuals who pose no public threat.
The challenges posed by COVID-19 are as diverse as they are daunting, which is why our response must be nimble and address the multitude of injuries the pandemic has inflicted upon our society. The Heroes Act, while not a perfect bill, is our most targeted legislative effort yet to slow the spread of the virus, keep families afloat, and, when the time comes, allow our businesses to safely reopen.
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