WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell voted in support of updated legislation to address the continued public health crisis and provide desperately needed support for struggling families and essential workers, with funds for testing and tracing measures, key support for frontline workers and strengthened assistance for the American people. The updated Heroes Act addresses needs that have developed since the House passed an earlier iteration and reflects negotiations between Democrats and Republicans
Dingell fought for and successfully included many provisions in the Heroes Act to support state and local governments, front-line healthcare workers, and hard-working men and women. Among The Heroes Act provisions Dingell led to keep in the update legislation are:
- A provision based on Dingell and Tlaib’s the Emergency Water is a Human Right Act, which would prohibit water shutoffs nationwide and provide financial assistance for low-income households to pay for drinking water and wastewater during the COVID-19 national emergency.
- Provisions modeled after Dingell’s Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act. The Heroes Act includes a 10 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentage increase for certain qualifying activities (e.g. increased pay for home health workers, improved assistive technology for those in need) to promote home and community-based services (HCBS) during the COVID-19 emergency. This is a historic investment in promoting HCBS and long-term care.
- Dingell and Tlaib pressed to ensure worker safety, by requiring OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standards and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise.
- Dingell co-led with Stevens, Bonamici, Young, and Veasey to increase funding for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and reduce barriers to LIHEAP participation during the COVID-19 emergency.
- Dingell joined Speier, Fitzpatrick, Moore, Kuster and 86 members to include increased funding for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs, including transitional housing assistance, legal assistance for victims, and support for families in the justice system. The updated Heroes Act includes $375 million for VAWA programs.
“Over the past four months we’ve seen the need for more action, more support, and more to combat the coronavirus crisis,” said Dingell. “We’ve seen disabled people evicted from their homes, kids returning to schools without funding to meet technology or sanitary needs, not to mention – the cases and deaths are devastating. We have a responsibility to take action to protect the health and well-being of all of our communities. The Heroes Act honors the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes and meet the needs of the American people today and through the coronavirus crisis. The Senate must act. Period. ”
The updated Heroes Act provides Michigan government and local communities on the frontlines of this crisis with robust, desperately needed funding to cover coronavirus-related outlays and revenue loss and pay our health care workers, police, fire, transportation, EMS, teachers and other vital workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs. An analysis prepared by the Congressional Research Service estimates that the Heroes Act will provide:
- more than $7.47 billion to the State of Michigan,
- $458 million to Wayne County
- $99 million to Washtenaw County
- And $255 million for localities in or partially in Michigan’s 12th District, (breakdown by city available here)
The $2.2 trillion legislation protects lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy. To address needs that have arisen since the House first acted, the updated legislation includes:
- Strong support for small businesses, by improving the Paycheck Protection Program to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits, providing hard-hit businesses with second loans, and delivering targeted assistance for the struggling restaurant industry and independent live venue operators.
- Additional assistance for airline industry workers, extending the highly successful Payroll Support Program to keep airline industry workers paid.
- More funds to bolster education and child care, with $225 billion for education – including $182 billion for K-12 schools and nearly $39 billion for postsecondary education – and $57 billion to support child care for families.
In addition, it maintains key priorities from the legislation that passed the House in May. Among the bill’s many provisions, it:
- Honors our heroes, through $436 billion to provide one year’s worth of assistance to state, local, territorial and tribal governments who desperately need funds to pay vital workers like first responders and health workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs.
- Supports testing, tracing and treatment, through $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, with special attention to the disparities facing communities of color, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers. The updated bill also includes $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine.
- Provides additional direct payments, cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a more robust second round of economic impact payments of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent.
- Protects payrolls, by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit that encourages employers to keep employees on payroll.
- Ensures worker safety, by requiring OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise.
- Preserves health coverage, protecting Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance by making unemployed Americans automatically receive the maximum ACA subsidy on the exchanges, as well as a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans.
- Restores unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January and preventing unemployed workers from exhausting their eligibility, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed, including those connected to the gig-economy.
- Bolsters housing assistance, helping struggling families afford a safe place to live with tens of billions in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs – preventing homelessness.
- Strengthens food security, addressing rising hunger with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table as well as targeted support for farmers and producers impacted by the crisis.
- Safeguards our democracy, with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service.
The text of revised version of The Heroes Act is here. A one-pager on the legislation is here. A section-by-section summary is here. Additional information on the state and local relief provisions is here.