|As our country continues to weather the COVID19 crisis, families across America are struggling to make ends meet—delivering federal support so that rent checks can be paid and food put on the table has never been more important. Unfortunately, while House Democrats first passed the Heroes Act on May 15th, the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to act for months, leaving millions of Americans in limbo.
While the GOP's abdication of their duty is shameful and unacceptable, House Democrats refuse to do the same. That's why we introduced an updated Heroes Act, which delivers the enhanced unemployment benefits, targeted stimulus checks, and funding for state and local governments that we need if we hope to recover from this economic crisis. This aid package includes crucial support for the post office, public transit systems, vaccine research and development, education and child care so that parents can get back to work, and much more. As you can see in my statement for the record, included below, I am proud to support it:
"I am pleased that this legislation once again provides economic relief for American families by providing stimulus checks, restoring and expanding the weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January, improving unemployment benefits for contract and mixed income workers, bolstering housing assistance through direct rent relief, and strengthening food access for families disproportionately impacted by the pandemic through a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits. The updated Heroes Act also includes robust support for small businesses by improving the Paycheck Protection Program and providing the hardest-hit small businesses, non-profits, and entrepreneurs with second loans.
"I am incredibly proud that this package contains two pieces of legislation that I cosponsored to provide additional targeted assistance for struggling restaurants and live venues – the Restaurants Act and the Save Our Stages Act New York City independent restaurants and live entertainment venues and theaters have been devastated by the economic impacts of the pandemic, and this bill will provide the immediate relief they need to ensure they can survive as the lifeblood of our city and our neighborhoods. After leading the call for robust funding for our public transit agencies, I am pleased that this package contains substantial assistance for the MTA, which will allow it to continue operations into 2021. The economic relief in the updated Heroes Act is vital to New York City’s ability to rebuild and restore its economy.
"In addition to economic relief, the updated Heroes Act invests in the health and safety of the American people by providing an additional $75 billion for testing and tracing, an additional $28 billion to procure a safe and effective vaccine, and strengthening worker safety protections. The package also includes provisions that will protect unemployed Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance by ensuring they receive the maximum ACA subsidy on the healthcare exchanges. The updated Heroes Act provides additional support by creating a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for unemployed Americans.
"After fighting for urgently needed funding for New York City’s schools, I am proud that this package includes $182 billion for K-12 schools, $39 billion to higher education institutions, and $57 billion to support child care for families. The package also includes desperately needed funding for museums and libraries and targeted funding to support research universities that are leading clinical research into improving COVID-19 management.
"Finally, I am proud that this legislation invests in safeguarding our democracy by fully funding the Postal Service, providing states with new resources to safeguard the safety and security of our elections, and ensuring the integrity of the 2020 Census.
"It’s been more than four months since House Democrats gathered on this floor to pass a $3.4 trillion COVID-19 relief package that included urgent funding to protect the lives and livelihoods of American families. Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans failed to pass that bill and chose instead to “wait and see” how much worse the pandemic could get. Well they waited and they saw and they still did nothing, even as the pandemic spread and millions of Americans remained out of work. Since House Democrats pass the stimulus package in May, the US COVID-19 death toll has more than doubled to top 200,000. The American people are demanding relief, and it is long past time for Congress to assist them. I urge my colleagues across this aisle to stop playing politics and accept this robust and reasonable compromise for the good of the American people."