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Heck Initiatives Help Shape House Stimulus Package

Press Release

Date: March 23, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Today House Democrats unveiled the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act, a stimulus package to protect Americans from the economic impacts of the global coronavirus crisis. Multiple provisions put forth by Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) were included in the package.

"Congress needs to act boldly and decisively to shield Americans from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak," said Heck. "We also need to empower people so they aren't forced to choose between taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus on the one hand, and paying their bills on the other. In its current form, the Senate proposal falls short of protecting American workers and families. I'm glad to see that the proposed House bill takes this crisis seriously and gets immediate help to those who most need it. It's time to act."

The proposed legislation:

Provides $100 billion in emergency rental assistance. Housing is the single largest monthly expense for families, and Americans cannot weather this crisis without relief from housing costs. This provision significantly increases rental assistance and expands eligibility for the duration of the crisis and is modeled after Rep. Heck's Emergency Rental Assistance Act of 2020, H.R. 6314.

Significantly expands unemployment insurance during the crisis. As American workers cope with a sharp, unprecedented increase in unemployment, this assistance is the best and fastest way to provide cash directly to those who need it. On March 18, Rep. Heck wrote Speaker Pelosi calling for an expansion of unemployment insurance that would last until six months after the crisis ends.

Allows self-employed individuals who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 emergency to be eligible for a federal unemployment compensation payment. On March 20, Rep. Heck led a Washington state congressional delegation letter to House leadership calling for the inclusion of unemployment compensation for self-employed workers in any COVID-19 response package.

Suspends consumer payments, including mortgages and student loans, until Americans are back on their feet. Rep. Heck called on House leadership to include such a provision in his March 18 letter.

Expands Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to keep American families healthy during this crisis. Rep. Heck wrote in strong support of these initiatives in his March 18 letter.

Allows tribes and tribally designated housing entities to access funding to combat homelessness on tribal lands. Rep. Heck first introduced this provision as H.R. 4029, the Tribal Access to Homeless Assistance Act, which passed the House unanimously in November.

Ensures that all voters will have access to the ballot box this November 2020 and can vote by mail should they choose to do so -- promoting both social distancing and civic engagement. Washington state conducts all elections by mail-in ballots. Rep. Heck is a cosponsor of H.R. 92, the Vote by Mail Act and H.R. 6202, the Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act.

Strengthens the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies by providing more than $1.6 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile procurement. Rep. Heck has been working to secure the necessary PPE to meet the demand in Washington state and around the country. On March 15, he joined a bipartisan letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to fulfill Washington state's requests for PPE.
Congressman Heck is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Joint Economic Committee. He serves as co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition's Housing Taskforce.