TUCSON— This week, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva joined House Democratic Leadership in introducing the Heroes Act, the fifth relief package to address the economic fallout and health consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill includes numerous provisions to increase testing, provide hazard pay to essential workers, and put money in the pockets of workers and their families.
“A crisis of this magnitude merits a bold response to address it, and this legislation provides the necessary resources to address many of the issues plaguing our cities and towns, health care infrastructure, and workforce,” said Rep. Grijalva. “From cities and towns facing budget shortfalls and the falling profits of small businesses to families worried about paying their bills and essential workers lacking workplace protections from the virus, the Heroes Act recognizes that COVID-19 has left no part of our lives untouched. While congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration remain intent on forcing our country to reopen while the virus continues harming people across the country, I’m proud my colleagues and I have introduced legislation that invests in our healthcare system, the safety of our workers, the security of our families, and the recovery of our economy.”
The bill includes:
- $75 billion for testing, tracing, treatment, and support for hospitals and providers.
- Includes investments in nursing home safety.
- Requires the CDC to coordinate with states on testing and requires HHS to release a nation-wide testing plan by June.
- Increases the Medicaid matching rates to absorb increased enrollment and provide relief to state budgets.
- Creates the State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund to help states and local governments pay for COVID-19 related expenses, replace lost revenues, and respond to the negative economic impacts of the virus. It includes:
- $500 billion for state governments
- $375 billion for local governments
- An expansion of fund eligibility to smaller cities, towns, and rural areas, a provision that has long been a legislative priority of Rep. Grijalva.
- Rewards essential workers with important workplace protections and hazard pay.
- Creates the $200 billion Heroes Fund to provide hazard pay to essential workers who have put their lives on the line during the pandemic. Rep. Grijalva led 41 members of Congress in an effort to establish this fund and pay essential workers the wages they deserve.
- Requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an enforceable emergency temporary standard within seven days that covers all workers from COVID-19 infections.
- Expands emergency paid family, medical, and sick leave benefits to millions of workers, including health care workers and first responders, by eliminating exemptions that prevented workers from accessing emergency paid leave during a pandemic.
- Secures $20 billion for tribes and clarifies that funding should only go to federally-recognized tribes. Rep. Grijalva has led efforts to include relief for tribes in COVID-19 relief packages.
- Strengthens the Paycheck Protection Program to ensure that minority, women, veteran, and rural businesses have access to more funds to pay their bills and keep employees on the payroll.
- Puts money in the pockets of workers:
- Includes another round of stimulus payments and removes discriminatory language in the CARES Act, allowing immigrants with an ITIN to qualify for stimulus payments. Rep. Grijalva introduced the Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act to remedy discriminatory language in the CARES Act and allow immigrants to qualify for relief.
- Extends weekly $600 unemployment provisions through next January.
- Provides relief to students and educational institutions
- Invests more than $100 billion in direct emergency funding for students, schools, and institutions to maintain access to education.
- Extends the suspension of student loan payments to September 30, 2021.
- Extends eligibility for emergency relief grants to students regardless of immigration status, a result of an effort led by Rep. Grijalva.
- Protects the livelihoods of American families
- Includes a special enrollment period and subsidies for the ACA for those who have lost their health coverage
- $175 billion to support renters and homeowners with rental, mortgage, and utility payments.
- Includes a 15 percent increase in the maximum SNAP benefit to families facing food insecurity.
- Addresses the multiemployer pension crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and protects the economic security of more than one million workers and retirees.
- Provides $25 billion to the US Postal Service, a priority for Rep. Grijalva.
- Protect the integrity of our democracy by providing for safe elections and expanded access to vote-by-mail.
- Rolls back $135 billion in millionaire tax giveaways that were slipped into the original CARES package with the inclusion of H.R. 6579, a bill cosponsored by Rep. Grijalva.