Casten Supports Updated Heroes Act To Help Illinois Families and Communities Impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Sean Casten (IL-06) voted for the updated Heroes Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill supports small businesses by improving the Paycheck Protection Program, restores unemployment benefits through next January, provides a second round of economic impact payments, and allocates additional funds to bolster education and child care. Specifically, it provides $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. The updated Heroes Act will also provide $12.1 billion for Illinois to help first responders, frontline health workers, teachers, and other essential workers. Casten previously supported the first Heroes Act that passed the House in May. The updated package now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Casten said, "With jobless claims topping 837,000 last week and the U.S. passing a grim milestone of 200,000 lives lost to COVID-19, ?it is clear this health and economic crisis is far from over. It is long past time for Congress to take action. This much-needed legislation will provide additional assistance to our small businesses and families across the 6th District, testing and tracing efforts, and provide education and child care assistance to support families. As our community continues to feel the economic burden of COVID-19, it's imperative that Congress gets help to those in need. It has been over four months since the first package passed the House – it's time Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans put the lives of the American people first and pass this relief package immediately."
The ?updated Heroes Act provides $238 billion to states and another $179 billion to local governments. In addition it specifically:
- Honors our heroes, through $436 billion to provide one year's worth of assistance to state, local, territorial and tribal governments.
- 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.
- Safeguards our democracy, with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service.