Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, secured key provisions in the newest coronavirus relief package unveiled by House Democrats, The Heroes Act.
Among other provisions, Blunt Rochester helped secure a minimum allocation for every state, regardless of size or population, helping to spur economic recovery. Blunt Rochester also secured prohibition on water disconnections during the pandemic and funds to cover treatment for COVID-19 patients, ensuring out-of-pocket payments are not a barrier during this public health emergency. The Heroes Act totals more than $3 trillion in COVID-19 relief funding for frontline workers, economic relief for families and businesses and expanded testing and treatment.
“In these unprecedented times of challenge, The Heroes Act represents a bold and decisive plan for our continued battle against COVID-19,” said Blunt Rochester. “In this package, House Democrats have prioritized the heroes of our national response – those who are keeping us safe and our economy running — including our first responders, health workers and teachers. I’m proud to have fought for and secured key provisions of The Heroes Act. These provisions will ensure Delaware has the resources we need to continue our economic recovery, protect patients who are currently battling COVID-19, and ensure that all Delawareans, regardless of socioeconomic status, are not denied access to fundamental and essential utilities.”
Key provisions Blunt Rochester secured in The Heroes Act are:
— Small state minimums: The Heroes Act includes a minimum economic relief allocation for every state, regardless of size or population, and allows the use of this relief to cover revenue losses. This comes after Blunt Rochester sent a letter to House Leadership requesting that small state minimums be included in any further relief package.
— No out-of-pocket expenses for COVID-19 patients: The Heroes Act includes Blunt Rochester’s COVID-19 Treatment Act of 2020, which would ensure that patients do not pay out-of-pocket expenses for treatment during this public health emergency.
— Aid for rural hospitals: The Heroes Act reinstates the imputed rural floor to give needed financial relief to Delaware’s rural hospitals after Blunt Rochester joined her colleagues in introducing the Medicare Wage Index Parity Act and advocated to House Leadership for its inclusion.
— Preventing drug shortages: The Heroes Act includes provisions from Blunt Rochester’s bipartisan bill, H.R. 6660, the Limit Ongoing Shortages and Stabilize Supply Act to prevent prescription drug shortages by requiring manufacturers to develop a risk mitigation plan.
— Bolstering national COVID-19 contact tracing efforts: The Heroes Act contains $75 billion for state and local health departments to carry out vital contact tracing program activities. This comes after Blunt Rochester called on Congressional leadership to give robust funding and support for a national testing strategy.
— Enhances accountability of PPP and EIDL loans: The Heroes Act requires SBA to report on specific demographic, industry, size and geographic data points for the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. This comes after Blunt Rochester wrote to SBA demanding accountability for the implementation of the program.
— Moratorium on water shutoffs: The Heroes Act includes a moratorium on water shutoffs during the COVID-19 crisis. This comes after Blunt Rochester publicly called on Delaware utility companies to commit to not cutting off lights or water during the crisis.
— Energy assistance funding: The Heroes Act includes $1.5 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides funding to help low-income families with home energy bills, energy crises and minor weatherization and energy-related repairs. This comes after Blunt Rochester wrote to House Leadership requesting robust LIHEAP funding.
— Reforms recovery rebates: The Heroes Act would expand payment eligibility to allow households with adult dependents and full-time students aged 24 or younger to collect the qualifying child tax credit, a provision Blunt Rochester has advocated for.
— Expand nonprofit access to Paycheck Protection Program: The Heroes Act would expand access to the PPP to include all nonprofits that are struggling to maintain the services they provide to their communities. This comes after Blunt Rochester joined colleagues in writing to House Leadership requesting the change.
— Supports the U.S. Postal Service: The Heroes Act provides $25 billion for lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic and language ensuring protections to postal workers during this time, a provision Blunt Rochester has advocated for.
The more than $3 trillion legislation protects the lives and livelihoods of the American people. Among its many provisions, the bill:
— Honors heroes by providing nearly $1 trillion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments who desperately need funds to pay vital workers like first responders, health workers and teachers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs.
— Establishes a Heroes’ Fund for essential workers with $200 billion to ensure that essential workers who have risked their lives working during the pandemic receive hazard pay.
— Supports testing, tracing and treatment by providing another $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment and supporting hospitals and providers.
— Provides additional direct payments, cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a second round of more substantial economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household.
— Protects payrolls by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit that encourages employers to keep employees on payroll, allowing 60 million Americans to remain connected to their paychecks and benefits.
— Ensures worker safety by requiring Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise and prevents employers from retaliating against workers who report infection control problems.
— Supports small businesses and nonprofits by strengthening the Payroll Protection Program to ensure it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes and types and responds flexibly to small businesses by providing $10 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
— Preserves health coverage, by protecting Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance with COBRA subsidies to maintain their coverage and creating a special enrollment period in the Affordable Care Act exchanges for uninsured Americans.
— Extends unemployment benefits ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through January 2021, providing a safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed.
— Bolsters housing assistance, helping struggling families afford a safe place to live with $175 billion in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs.
— Strengthens food security, addressing rising hunger with a 15% increase to the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table.
— Protects elections by issuing $3.6 billion in grants to states to carry out election contingency plans to make sure voting is safe and accessible to all Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
The legislation follows the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act enacted April 24; the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, enacted March 27; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted March 18; and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act enacted March 6.
The text of The Heroes Act, H.R. 6800, is available at bit.ly/3fHvBCG. A one-pager on the legislation is at bit.ly/3cpIwHn. A section-by-section summary is at bit.ly/3cvFHVg.