Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) voted for H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act, an urgently-needed package to address the unprecedented coronavirus health and economic crisis, protect the lives and livelihoods of El Pasoans, and the life of our democracy.
“The coronavirus crisis is unprecedented: 43 El Pasoans have died from COVID-19, almost 60,000 people in our region have lost their jobs, our small businesses are hurting, and Texas and El Paso government revenues have declined sharply putting at risk the job and health security of our first responders, health care workers, and teachers,” said Congresswoman Escobar.
“Protecting the lives and livelihoods of all El Pasoans is my top priority. I am proud to support this piece of legislation that responds boldly to this crisis by investing in our community, alleviating the pain of families who do not know where their next meal is coming from or how they're going to pay next month's rent, making significant investments in testing, tracing, and treatment in vulnerable communities like El Paso, and protecting our democracy.”
The Heroes Act provides Texas and El Paso local governments on the frontlines of this crisis with robust, desperately needed funding to cover coronavirus-related outlays and revenue loss and pay our health care workers, police, fire, transportation, EMS, teachers and other vital workers who keep us safe and are in danger of losing their jobs.
An analysis prepared by the Congressional Research Service estimates that the Heroes Act will provide over $35 billion in state funding for Texas in addition to urgently needed funding for El Paso communities:
- City of El Paso - $458 million over two years
- County of El Paso - $471 million over two years
- Anthony - $2 million over two years
- Town of Horizon City - $9 million over two years
- Village of Vinton - $1 million over two years
- City of Socorro: $17 million over two years
- City of San Elizario: $4 million over two years
The Heroes Act also includes a $90 billion fund to support state and local public education, including $9.2 billion for Texas communities. This funding will help maintain or restore state and local fiscal support for elementary, secondary and public higher education and can be used to meet a wide range of urgent needs, including summer learning, afterschool programs, distance learning, and emergency financial aid for college students as well as coordination with public health departments to mitigate the spread of disease.
Below are some additional major components of the Heroes Act:
- Provides strong support for our heroes by establishing a $200 billion Heroes’ fund to ensure that essential workers across the country receive hazard pay.
- Commits another $75 billion -- placing a priority on vulnerable communities like El Paso -- for the testing, tracing and treatment we need in order to have a science-based path to safely reopen our country and helping ensure that every individual can access free coronavirus treatment.
- Puts money in the pockets of workers with a second round of direct payments to families up to $6,000 per household, new payroll protection measures to keep 60 million workers connected with their jobs and extending weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January.
- Implements the flexibility requested by small businesses, strengthening the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes and types, extends deadlines, and provides $10 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
- Ensures further support for El Pasoans, including for:
- Health security. Provides COBRA subsidies and a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for those without insurance.
- Workplace security. Requires OSHA to ensure that all workplaces develop science-based infection control plans and preventing employers from retaliating against workers who report problems.
- Housing security. Provides $175 billion in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs.
- Food security. Addresses 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.
- Protects our democracy with additional resources, ensures safe elections, and provides funding for mail-in ballots, so voters don’t have to choose between exercising their right to vote and their health; and provides $25 billion to preserve the Postal Service, which will play a key role in ensuring safe elections.
- Provides additional funding for an accurate Census.
A summary of the Heroes Act is available here, and a printable fact-sheet is available here.