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Pallone Statement on Passage of Updated Heroes Act

October 1, 2020
Press Release
Bill Provides Critical Funding for COVID-19 Testing, State and Local Governments, Restaurants, New Jersey’s Fishing Community, and Live Music Venues

Washington, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) issued the following statement today following the passage of the updated Heroes Act:

“This bill shows once again that Democrats have a substantive plan to address the challenges the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn inflicted on our country and on my home state of New Jersey. It builds on the legislation that House Democrats passed in May, providing the funding necessary to help end the COVID-19 pandemic and safely re-open our economy so we can get people back to work,” Pallone said.

“The updated Heroes Act includes provisions that fill critical needs in New Jersey. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again - we simply cannot allow state and local governments to fall into bankruptcy at a time when they are providing vital services to residents,” Pallone said “This bill delivers over $8.7 billion to the state of New Jersey and over $612 million directly to cities and towns in my district. The elimination of the state and local tax deduction cap for the 2020 tax year would also give much-needed financial relief to families in New Jersey.

“Restaurants in my district have suffered greatly during the pandemic, and some have already closed. They will only continue to struggle during the winter months. Funding in this bill will give them a much-needed lifeline. This legislation includes provisions to give entertainment venues the funding they need to survive. Venues like the Stone Pony and dozens of music venues in Central Jersey cemented New Jersey’s pivotal role as the birthplace of some of music’s most treasured icons, and this funding will help preserve these and other historic places that mean so much to our communities,” Pallone said. “I’m also pleased that this bill includes an additional $250 million in federal aid for fishing communities that will go a long way to help the fishing industry, including commercial and charter fishing up and down the Jersey Shore.  

“As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I authored key portions of this bill to protect the health of Americans. This legislation provides $75 billion for testing, tracing, surveillance and containment. It also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to identify specific testing strategies to ensure racial and ethnic minority populations and medically underserved populations,” Pallone continued. “It includes $2 billion in new funding to get essential workers the critical protective personal and work equipment they need, and $28 billion in additional funding for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The updated Heroes Act includes new provisions to address insurance companies declining to cover COVID-19 testing and to allow people to receive Affordable Care Act tax credits if they are on unemployment insurance. The bill also provides additional funding for state Medicaid programs and ensures that all COVID-19 treatments and vaccines are free of cost-sharing for patients,” Pallone continued.This legislation also helps families stay connected and ensures that they do not lose critical utility services. It prevents home energy and water service shutoffs, prohibits telephone and broadband service providers from stopping service and provides $12 billion in funding to schools and libraries for distance learning. 

“The updated Heroes Act is a bold step we need to protect the American people and provide critical assistance during this public health and economic crisis. It is long past time for President Trump and Senate Republicans to recognize the need for this critical legislation,” Pallone concluded. “Their stall tactics must end. We must get this assistance to the American people who are struggling and crush this pandemic with the resources and support this bill provides.”   

The $2.2 trillion legislation protects lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy. To address needs that have arisen since the House first acted, the updated legislation includes:

  • Strong support for small businesses by improving the Paycheck Protection Program to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits, providing hard-hit businesses with second loans, and delivering targeted assistance for the struggling restaurant industry and independent live venue operators.
  • Additional assistance for airline industry workers extending the highly successful Payroll Support Program to keep airline industry workers paid.
  • More funds to bolster education and child care 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.

In addition, it maintains key priorities from the legislation that passed the House in May. Among the bill’s many provisions, it:

  • Delivers critical aid to state and local governments with $238 billion for state governments and $179 billion for local governments to assist with the impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. If the legislation became law, it is estimated that the State of New Jersey would receive $8.7 billion and cities and towns in New Jersey would directly receive $5.2 billion. Cities and towns in New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District would receive over $612 million.
  • Restores unemployment benefits ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January and preventing unemployed workers from exhausting their eligibility, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed, including those connected to the gig-economy.
  • Provides additional direct payments cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a more robust second round of economic impact payments of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent.
  • Supports testing, tracing and treatment through $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, with special attention to the disparities facing communities of color, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers. The updated bill also includes $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine.
  • Preserves health coverage protecting Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance by making unemployed Americans automatically receive the maximum ACA subsidy on the exchanges, as well as a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans.
  • Supports the care of elderly veterans with $100 million in federal relief for State Veterans Homes.
  • Honors our heroes through $436 billion to provide one year’s worth of assistance to state, local, territorial and tribal governments who desperately need funds to pay vital workers like first responders and health workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs.
  • Helps bridge the digital divide with $12 billion to close the homework gap by providing funding for Wi-Fi hotspots and connected devices for students and library patrons and $3 billion for emergency home connectivity.
  • Supports Amtrak through $2.4 billion to support Amtrak’s ability to operate passenger rail service on Northeast Corridor.
  • Helps the struggling restaurant industry with a $120 billion grant program.
  • Delivers aid to the live entertainment and music venue industry through $10 billion for grants to eligible live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain live venues.
  • Protects payrolls by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit that encourages employers to keep employees on payroll.
  • Ensures worker safety by requiring OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise.
  • Bolsters housing assistance helping struggling families afford a safe place to live with tens of billions in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs – preventing homelessness.
  • Strengthens food security addressing rising hunger with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table as well as targeted support for farmers and producers impacted by the crisis.
  • Helps the fishing industry with $250 million in additional aid for the fishing community. It also includes an additional $100 million for the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program that provides direct benefits to U.S. fishing and marine aquaculture industries.
  • Safeguards our democracy with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the U.S. Postal Service.

Pallone delivered remarks on the House floor in support of the bill. Video is available here.

The text of revised version of The Heroes Act is here. A one-pager on the legislation is here. A section-by-section summary is here. Additional information on the state and local relief provisions is here.