Langevin Statement on Passage of Updated Heroes Act to Combat COVID-19, Support American Workers

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today voted in favor of a $2.2 trillion COVID relief package. This updated version of the Heroes Act, which originally passed the House in May, reflects discussions with Republicans and aims to immediately meet the urgent needs of families, workers, and businesses; protect public health; and bolster the nation’s economic standing. Since May, House Democrats have sought to negotiate with Republicans to deliver help to the American people. With their latest package, House Democrats have met Republicans halfway from Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s $1 trillion proposal over the summer. In addition to a lower topline number, the updated Heroes Act contains new provisions that reflect needs that have emerged, including those of schools, restaurants, and performance spaces. The bill passed the House by a vote of 214 to 207.

“More than four months have passed since the House passed the Heroes Act to provide desperately needed aid to save lives and protect our economy. Since then, the bill has sat on Mitch McConnell’s desk as Republicans have refused to bring it up for a vote. The House has repeatedly sought to reach an agreement on COVID relief because as the days pass, the toll of the pandemic grows,” said Langevin. 

“Layoffs are starting to pile up, and it’s clear that the people cannot wait any longer. Yet Senate Republicans have failed to pass their own proposal and refuse to accept the fair and reasonable compromise we put on the floor today. Republicans need to act without delay as families struggle to put food on the table and keep roofs over their heads. Come to the negotiating table and join us in passing bipartisan legislation that will keep Americans afloat and help us turn the corner on the pandemic,” added Langevin.

The updated Heroes Act includes another round of stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent and restores the enhanced $600 weekly unemployment benefit through January. Also included is $436 billion in aid for state and local governments reeling from revenue shortfalls that would help keep first responders and health workers employed; $225 billion in support of K-12 schools and colleges and universities combating the impacts of COVID-19; $57 billion to help working families access child care, and $75 billion for robust testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, with a focus on tackling disparities faced by underserved communities.

To assist with housing and food insecurity, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, the bill includes tens of billions of dollars in aid to help renters and homeowners cover rent, mortgage and utility payments, as well as funding in support of a 15 percent increase to the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit. Additional funding for vital nutrition programs including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program, are also included.

The package includes strong support for small businesses by improving the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to better meet the needs of the smallest businesses and non-profits. The program would prioritize employers with less than 10 employees and establishments in underserved and rural communities. To buoy the airline industry during a record downturn in travel, it extends the Payroll Support Program to keep airline industry workers on the job. The updated bill includes the Restaurants Act, which will provide $120 billion in targeted assistance for struggling restaurants nationwide to help them cover costs such as payroll, rent, supplies, and personal protective equipment. To help performance spaces hit hard by the pandemic, the bill also includes the Save Our Stages Act to provide $10 billion in grants to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives.

Finally, to strengthen election security and ensure voters safe access to the polls, states and local governments will receive $3.6 billion in grant funding to bolster election operations with resources for contingency planning, preparation, and resilience ahead of the November elections.