Central Florida’s congressional Democrats voted to pass the HEROES Act, a loaded coronavirus response bill that is doomed as it heads to the Senate. Representatives Val Demings and Darren Soto vocally supported the legislation. An analysis prepared by the Congressional Research Service estimates that in addition to its other provisions, the HEROES Act will provide $26.6 billion for the Florida Coronavirus Relief Fund in 2020 and 2021. In addition, the legislation includes the following for COVID-19 response:
- Orange County: $787 million
- Orlando: $166 million
- Apopka: $26 million
- Ocoee: $24 million
- Winter Garden: $22 million
- Belle Isle: $3.5 million
- Windermere: $1.7 million
- Edgewood: $1.5 million
- Oakland: $1.5 million
- Eatonville: $1.1 million
- Lake Butler: $887,178
- Lake Buena Vista: $13,330
“This is a crisis we’ve never seen before and we need to do things we’ve never done before,” said Rep. Val Demings. “This unprecedented emergency support is vital to help families and communities survive this pandemic, which has taken over 80,000 American lives and caused a depression-level economic crash. Our focus in this legislation is to support working families, shore up struggling small businesses, ensure that local communities can continue to provide lifesaving services, and create critical protections for essential and frontline workers.”
“With record poverty, unemployment, infection and death sweeping across the country, our nation’s heroes and families need Congress to continue to put forth legislation that meets their needs,” said Rep. Soto. “The Heroes Act offers a lifeline to those bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic by providing desperately needed support for struggling families and essential workers in Central Florida with funds for testing and tracing measures, key support for frontline workers and further financial assistance. Additionally, the Heroes Act includes language from my Save Our Homes Act that will ensure millions of homeowners and their families have a clear and viable path to stay in their homes and maintain homeownership during these uncertain times. With this bill, I join my House Democrat colleagues in taking a critical step to having a science-based path to safely reopen our country and ensure Americans come back stronger. I’m proud to deliver these wins for Central Florida!”
The Democratic legislation also includes a $90 billion fund to support state and local public education, including $5,231,568 for Florida 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.
“My Republican colleagues are deeply misguided when they say that no additional help is needed by Americans,” Rep. Demings added. “The truth is that people are struggling. Either we help now, or America is facing a dark, deep depression which will last for years. That’s not an option, so I and my Democratic colleagues are taking action.”
In addition to resources for our state, local, tribal and territorial governments, the Democratic legislation provides support to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people and the life of our democracy through various measures including:
- Establishes a $200 billion Heroes’ fund to ensure that essential workers across the country receive hazard pay.
- Commits another $75 billion 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 American 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 ($1,200 per individual, including retroactively closing the loopholes that excluded students and dependent adults during the first round of relief), new payroll protection measures to keep 60 million workers connected with their jobs and extending weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January. Additionally, the bill includes $10,000 in student debt cancellation.
- Strengthens the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes and types and responds flexibly to small businesses by providing $10 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
- Ensures further support for Floridians and all Americans, including for:
- Health security – with COBRA subsidies and a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for those without insurance.
- Workplace security – requiring OSHA to ensure that all workplaces develop science-based infection control plans and preventing employers from retaliating against workers who report problems.
- Housing security – with $175 billion in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs. Also, a 12-month moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
- Food security – with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table.
- Provides new resources to ensure safer elections, conduct an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service.
The full text of The Heroes Act, H.R. 6800, is here.