CAPAC Chair Statement on Updated Heroes Act

Oct 1, 2020 Issues: Other Issues

Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass an updated version of the Heroes Act to provide $2.2 trillion in relief to the American people - $1 trillion less than the amount included in H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act, which the House passed in May. The updated Heroes Act would provide all taxpayers – including those who lack a Social Security Number but pay taxes with an Income Tax Identification Number (ITIN) – with a second round of economic impact payments of $1200 per adult and $500 per dependent. It also extends the additional $600 a week in federal supplemental unemployment insurance to January 31st 2021, and, crucially for mixed-income workers, allows for an additional $125 per week for workers who earned at least $5,000 in self employment wages in 2019. The updated Heroes Act also creates a new “P4” Prioritized Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to give second PPP loans up to $2 million to the hardest hit small businesses. State and local governments would receive $238 billion for a State Fiscal Relief Fund and $179 billion for a Local Fiscal Relief Fund. Other priorities funded in this bill include $175 billion for K-12 schools, $57 billion for child care, $11.9 billion for Minority-Serving Institutions, $485 million for helping foster youth through the pandemic, and $15 billion in emergency aid for the U.S. Postal Service. Renters and homeowners would be able to seek help from an Emergency Rental Assistance program and a Homeowner Assistance Fund, and low income families would be helped by improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. The bill also extends the Payroll Support Program to keep tens of thousands of airline workers employed as airlines continue to struggle.

In addition to including ITIN earners, the updated Heroes Act also includes a number of priorities that the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) fought for, such as the NO HATE Act, which would improve hate crime reporting and expand critical resources for hate crime victims. It also includes provisions like the COVID-19 Community Care Act to ensure that medically underserved communities receive contact tracing and outreach in a way that is culturally and linguistically competent. And it would restore Medicaid coverage for citizens of the Freely Associated States – which is so important given the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the Pacific Islander community.

CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) voted for the updated Heroes Act and issued the following statement:

“We are experiencing an historic recession with historic unemployment. Workers, families, businesses, and even state and local governments are cash strapped and in desperate need of relief as the coronavirus pandemic continues into the fall with no indication it will improve before the end of the year. And while this pandemic has impacted the lives of all Americans, it has taken a particularly devastating toll on the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. In states like California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arkansas, and Colorado, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have COVID-19 infection and mortality rates that are several times higher than the general population. And new data from the Marshall Project found that Asian Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 as well, with deaths in the Asian American population nationwide increasing by 35% this year compared to previous years. The pandemic has also caused surging unemployment in the AAPI community and impacted Asian American-owned small businesses who were among the first to see their revenues decline weeks before stay at home orders were put in place. On top of this, the pandemic has incited ugly anti-Asia bigotry that has resulted in over 2,6000 reported hate crimes and incidents in recent months.

“Recognizing these dire needs in March, the House and Senate were able to act bipartisanly to provide relief, but that money was not enough to get the American people through a pandemic now in its eighth month, which is why the House acted again in May to pass the Heroes Act. But Republicans slammed the breaks on new relief in the spring, saying the needs of struggling Americans were not urgent. And then when they decided it was time to act, they insisted our bill was more than the American people deserved. I disagree. Cutting off the supplemental $600 a week has not increased employment, it has only made life harder for unemployed workers. Likewise, businesses are continuing to close their doors and lay off new employees as social distancing policies remain in place in much of the country. Clearly, we must be doing more. That is why we voted today on this updated and slimmed down version. It is less than we would want, but we cannot simply abandon the American people. This legislation is a compromise that cut a whole one trillion from our original bill. But will still provide stimulus directly to families and businesses. This bill recognizes that the coronavirus pandemic will not end on its own anytime soon and so it equips our country for the battle ahead. That includes not only supporting families, but also helping school ensure students can learn safely and providing extra funding to state and local governments. Yet still, Republicans have said this bill is too much. I’m disappointed that they refuse to even meet us in the middle. The American people deserve better.”