House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey today delivered the following remarks to the House Rules Committee in support of an appropriate rule for the House to consider the updated version of The Heroes Act:
Chairman McGovern, Ranking Member Cole, and Members of the Rules Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to address you this morning. I am pleased to present an updated version of The Heroes Act.
The health and economic catastrophe facing our country continues to cry out for urgent action.
In May, a bipartisan majority in the House passed The Heroes Act to provide critical support for our country to crush the coronavirus so we can protect lives and reopen our economy.
Unfortunately, that legislation has lingered for more than four months in Senator McConnell's legislative graveyard as Republicans fight among themselves and President Trump continues to downplay the severity of a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and devastated our economy.
The American people cannot afford to wait until next year for action, so Democrats are making good on our offer to compromise. This updated version of The Heroes Act seeks to meet Republicans halfway, while addressing needs that have grown since May.
To that end, we have updated the earlier version of The Heroes Act by including:
Strengthened support for small businesses, improving the Paycheck Protection Program and delivering targeted assistance to restaurants, nonprofits, and event venues.
Additional assistance for airline industry workers, extending the highly successful Payroll Support Program.
More funds for the children, with $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.
At the same time, we maintain the key priorities from the bill that we adopted in May. To that end, we are:
Honoring our heroes, with $436 billion so state, local, territorial and tribal governments can pay vital frontline workers.
Funding a campaign to crush the virus, through $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures and $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine.
Providing additional direct payments to families, cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a more robust second round of economic impact payments.
Protecting payrolls, by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit.
Ensuring worker safety, by requiring OSHA to issue strong, enforceable infection control standards.
Preserving health coverage, providing a special enrollment period and offering more generous ACA subsidies for unemployed Americans.
Restoring unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January.
Bolstering housing assistance, helping struggling families afford a safe place to live through rental and homeowner assistance.
Strengthening food security, addressing rising hunger with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs.
Safeguarding our democracy, with funding for safe elections, an accurate Census, and the Postal Service.
Mr. Chairman, this is strong legislation that delivers for American families.
Negotiations are continuing, and I ardently hope that we can reach a bipartisan agreement.
However, if Republicans refuse to meet us halfway we will have no choice but to once again act alone.
I request an appropriate rule to allow for Floor consideration in that contingency.