Close to five 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 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk collecting dust. The House has repeatedly sought to reach an agreement on COVID-19 relief because as the days pass, the toll of the pandemic grows.
Last week, in an effort to get timely help out to the American people, the House passed a revised $2.2 trillion Heroes Act. This updated version reflects discussions with Republicans and aims to meet the urgent needs of families, workers, and businesses. In addition, the updated package contains new provisions that reflect changing conditions I’ve heard about from Rhode Islanders. The updated bill includes specific funds to help restaurants and performance spaces that have been shuttered for months, and it restarts successful small business grant programs that expired in August.
The package includes another round of stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent, reinstates the enhanced weekly unemployment benefit through January, backstops struggling state and local governments with $436 billion to help them pay public health workers and first responders, and sets aside $225 billion for K-12 schools and colleges and universities, as well as $57 billion to improve access to child care and $75 billion for COVID-19 testing.
Rhode Islanders need help. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have neither passed their own proposal nor accepted the fair and reasonable compromise that passed the House last week. They need to come to the negotiating table and help pass bipartisan legislation that will keep Americans afloat and help us turn the corner on the pandemic.
To keep up with the latest on COVID-19 relief, and for updates on other issues, please visit my website and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.