Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The HEROES Act is a stimulus package to protect Americans from the economic impacts of the global coronavirus crisis. Multiple provisions put forth by Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) were included in the package.
“The HEROES Act tailors aid to the hardest hit Americans, and I’m proud to have written the provision that directs a large portion of the bill’s funds toward rental assistance for those who most need it,” said Heck. “This legislation will bring desperately needed relief to families who can’t make next month’s rent. To laid off workers who had just bought a home. To state, local, and tribal governments that are completely overwhelmed. To our heath care workers who are saving lives every day. This bill improves on the CARES Act and gets more financial help to the people suffering the most. We’re going to get through this crisis if we pull together – that means we cannot leave anyone behind.”
The legislation passed by the House:
- Provides $100 billion in emergency rental assistance. Housing is the single largest monthly expense for families, and Americans cannot weather this crisis without relief from housing costs. This provision significantly increases rental assistance and expands eligibility for the duration of the crisis by including H.R. 6820, Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020, legislation introduced by Congressman Heck.
- Provides liquidity for mortgage servicers and residential property owners by requiring that the Federal Reserve facility established in the CARES Act be implemented to support the mortgage market, contingent on compliance with certain reporting requirements and protections for borrowers and renters. Congressman Heck led a letter to the federal financial housing agencies asking them to take steps to stabilize and simplify the mortgage market during the COVID-19 crisis, include creating a liquidity facility for mortgage servicers.
- Provides $1 trillion to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments and allows governments to use the funds to replace lost revenues. These governments are stretched thin due to declining revenues and coronavirus expenses, and Congressman Heck has been one of the leading advocates for federal funding to sustain these governments and the vital services they provide, like education, healthcare, and transportation. On April 17, he cosponsored the State Operation Stabilization (SOS) Act, which would allow funds to replace lost revenue.
- Commits another $75 billion for testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures. This comes on top of the $75 billion for testing that passed as part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. On April 27, Congressman Heck wrote the Vice President to urge the task force to develop a national testing strategy.
- Requires the President to appoint a Medical Supplies Response Coordinator and makes improvements to the Strategic National Stockpile to ensure we have adequate personal protective equipment, medical devices, and drugs to protect providers and deliver the best care to patients. On March 13, Congressman Heck was among the first members of the House calling upon the Administration to deploy the Defense Production Act to boost medical supply production. On April 10, Congressman Heck cosponsored the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act.
- Provides a $100 billion infusion into the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for frontline hospitals and providers. The Fund was created in the CARES Act to reimburse health care related expenses or lost revenue due to the coronavirus. On April 3, Congressman Heck wrote HHS urging swift implementation of the Fund, and on May 11, he wrote HHS with concerns about the allocation formula.
- Invests $2.1 billion to address health care needs in Indian Country, including $1 billion for tribal health providers who have been forced to scale back operations due to the pandemic. Indian Country has been hit hard by the pandemic, and our nation has a federal trust responsibility to respond. On May 4, Congressman Heck signed a bipartisan letter urging leadership to include this tribal health in the next package. On May 12, he cosponsored a bill that would provide $1.7 bill in funding for these purposes.
- Provides $75 billion for homeowners in need. Congressman Heck cosponsored legislation to provide funding to address needs of struggling homeowners by providing direct assistance with mortgage payments, property taxes, and other housing related costs.
- Strengthens the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Congressman Heck is a cosponsor of H.R. 6506 to expand access to the PPP for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
- Expands Unemployment Insurance, Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to keep American families healthy during this crisis. Congressman Heck wrote in strong support of these initiatives in a letter he sent to House leadership.
- Ensures students have the internet access and technology they need to continue learning by expanding funding for the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate Program. Congressman Heck joined his colleagues in supporting H.R. 6563, the Emergency Educational Connections Act, which provided funding for internet and technology devices so that all students would have access to their virtual classrooms.
- Provides $25 billion for the Postal Service and additional protections for Postal workers. The Postal Service is a cherished institution, facing difficult times. Congressman Heck believes it’s important that Congress provide funding so postal operations are not interrupted. On April 17, he cosponsored the Protect Our Post Offices Act which would appropriate $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service.
Congressman Heck is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Joint Economic Committee. He serves as co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition’s Housing Taskforce.