Heroes Act: What People Are Saying
WASHINGTON — The Heroes Act, introduced on May 12, is Congress’ fifth COVID-19 pandemic response package aimed at protecting students’ access to education, supporting workers and their families, and ensuring access to affordable health care. Here’s what the nation’s leading organizations are saying about the bill.
American Council on Education (ACE): "This bill contains significant new funding for higher education institutions that will help alleviate the crippling financial impact posed by the coronavirus. Such support will not only assist institutions in surviving the current crisis but will stabilize thousands of communities whose economies are anchored by colleges and universities. In addition, the bill provides sizeable relief for student loan borrowers and numerous provisions that will allow campuses greater flexibility as they seek to fulfill their educational, cultural and research missions. Finally, the bill provides COVID-19 research funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund further research related to the pandemic and to mitigate harmful disruptions to NIH supported research. While significant needs remain, we are committed to working with you on them as the bill advances,”said ACE President Ted Mitchell.
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO): “The Heroes Act includes an emergency workplace infectious disease standard; gives aid for state and local governments, public schools, the U.S. Postal Service, and pension relief; keeps workers on payrolls to avoid mass layoffs; extends unemployment insurance; provides more direct payments to working people; extends health care coverage; and provides housing and food benefits, and much more,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME): “The only way to beat COVID and reopen the economy is to save vital public services and the public service workers who provide them – and this bill from the House of Representatives does exactly that. This legislation, instead of bailing out wealthy corporations, invests in the services and the people who make our communities strong: people who provide clean water, safe roads, strong schools, fully staffed hospitals and much more,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders.
American Federation of Teachers (AFT): "In a stark contrast to the chaotic guidance and misleading, wishful rhetoric from President Trump, today’s proposal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats takes a vital step toward helping our country begin to recover from the devastation of COVID-19. It lays out—and pays for—a plan to prioritize the health, safety, well-being and economic security of all Americans, including our immigrant communities, and protects the very people and institutions that have carried us through this crisis, especially our state and local governments, public schools and frontline workers,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.
The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC): “The comprehensive package addresses the twin challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. It increases nutrition assistance to children who do not have access to food due to COVID-19 school closures, older adults struggling to put food on the table, parents facing unemployment, among others. The package also invests in SNAP, state, local, territorial and tribal aid, additional direct payments to individuals, and other proven countercyclical tools. Indeed, each $1 in SNAP benefits generates between $1.50 and $1.80 in economic activity,” said FRAC President Luis Guardia.
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF): “Fire departments are facing deep budget cuts in the wake of the current economic crisis, including potential fire fighter layoffs and reductions in force. The Heroes Act will help departments overcome these shortfalls and save thousands of fire fighter jobs nationwide by providing significant resources to fire departments and local governments and providing needed flexibility in the use of such funds…” said IAFF President Harold A. Schaitberger.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “Far too many in America continue to suffer, with record poverty, unemployment, infections, and death ravaging our country’s most vulnerable communities. This bill takes critical steps toward providing a safety net to address the basic needs of the people most impacted by COVID-19 by supporting health care, economic security, immigrants, students, housing, voting access, census participation, communications access, and the justice system while combating structural racism, xenophobia, and other barriers that remain prevalent in society. At a moment when our country is most in need of courageous leadership, lawmakers must work together to pass the HEROES Act as soon as possible to lift our most marginalized communities and protect our democratic institutions. Leaving anyone behind is not an option,” said Leadership Conference President and CEO Vanita Gupta.
National Education Association (NEA): “Given that at least 36.5 million Americans are out of work and unemployment is higher than at any time since the Great Depression, Congress must act decisively to stave off further disaster. For many families, however, it is already too late: They have lost jobs, homes, and hope.
This is why we urge you to quickly pass the HEROES Act, a tribute to those whose work holds us together—the essential frontline workers such as first responders, health care professionals, and educators that every community depends on, especially in time of crisis. Like so many other workers, educators have risen to the challenge of this pandemic, finding creative ways to reach out to students and even putting themselves in harm’s way to deliver meals and learning materials to students. The funds and provisions in the HEROES Act will help protect educators’ jobs, and their health and safety by assisting states and school districts in purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical items to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
National Nurses United (NNU): “The union also applauded the bill for including premium pay for all essential workers, including nurses, across the country who have been risking their lives to do their jobs and care for patients. Additionally, NNU praised the bill for including strong appropriations for public health programs, state, local, and tribal governments, mass testing and tracing programs, and the postal service. The union also applauded the bill for providing child and family care subsidies for frontline workers, eliminating the exemption of health care workers and emergency responders from emergency FMLA leave and from emergency paid sick leave, increasing Medicaid funding, housing assistance, and extending unemployment benefits through January,”said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN.
Paid Leave for All: “The U.S. is only as safe as the most vulnerable worker in our society. The Heroes Act is a crucial step in the right direction when it comes to providing workers in America the paid leave protections they need in times of global health, personal medical and caregiving emergencies. If passed, the bill would close significant loopholes from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, protecting millions more workers under emergency paid sick days and paid leave provisions—health care and frontline workers, workers at big businesses, and many essential workers putting their health at risk to keep us all safe,” said Paid Leave for All Director Dawn Huckelbridge.
Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry: “The Heroes Act offers a lifeline to these families and addresses the hunger crisis our nation is facing by increasing SNAP benefits to reflect the increased food costs facing families; extending Pandemic EBT through the summer months to ensure safe, consistent access to nutrition while school is out of session; and providing financial support to ensure that school nutrition departments and food banks, which have been on the front lines of feeding hungry kids during this crisis, have the necessary resources to continue to feed kids as this crisis continues and when schools reopen,” said Share Our Strength Senior Vice President Lisa Davis.
Contact: Democratic Press Office, 202-226-0853
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