May 15, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement today after voting for The Heroes Act, which would address the continued public health crisis and provide desperately needed support for struggling families and essential workers. The legislation provides funding for testing and tracing measures, support for frontline workers, and strengthens assistance for individuals and families in Washington’s ninth district and beyond.
“Our communities, workers, and families urgently need more relief amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Heroes Act would help address the devastating health and economic impacts caused by the pandemic and support people in need across the country.
“Frontline workers continue to risk their lives every day to provide health care, food and groceries, public safety, transportation, and other services to our communities. The Heroes Act would give these essential workers the hazard pay they deserve. In addition, we invest almost one billion dollars to assist state and local governments in providing childcare for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This bill moves us forward in the most important aspect of our recovery: addressing the pandemic itself. The Heroes Act commits $75 billion for testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures to help us safely reopen our country. It provides relief to alleviate the dire financial situation that hospitals, community health centers, and other providers are facing. Additionally, the legislation makes substantial investments in the research and development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
“I have heard constantly from small businesses who have had to close their doors or reduce operations during the pandemic. The Heroes Act extends and strengthens the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities and nonprofits and that small businesses feel comfortable utilizing this funding. The bill would also replenish funding for emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for small businesses.
“States and localities, including cities throughout the 9th District, have said repeatedly that funds are desperately needed to help cover coronavirus-related expenditures and lost revenue. This bill would inject one trillion dollars across state, local, and tribal governments. We are already seeing cities and counties start to furlough workers – without significant federal funding, these furloughs will continue and the impact on vital services such as housing assistance, public health programs, education, worker training, and public safety will be devastating.
“The Heroes Act also follows through on our commitment to support individuals and families struggling during the pandemic. The bill provides another round of direct cash payments to all low- and middle-income households. It increases the SNAP benefit by 15% to help ensure everyone can put food on the table for themselves and their families. The bill would extend unemployment insurance provisions previously passed by Congress to increase benefits for unemployed workers and ensure workers who have lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible.
“Immigrants have largely been left out of Congressional relief efforts to date because of opposition from Republicans. Today’s bill finally recognizes the contributions that immigrants bring to our communities. It makes immigrants eligible for direct cash payments, ensures that all immigrants can receive COVID-19 testing and treatment for free, and includes immigrants in the hazard pay for essential workers on the frontlines.
“Individuals, families, and businesses across the country are still struggling. The Heroes Act would help alleviate this suffering. Congress must continue to work to advance legislation that meets the needs of our communities and helps us begin to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”