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House Introduces the HEROES Act

The HEROES Act is expected to pass a House vote today

May 15, 2020


Earlier this week, House Democrats introduced a bill, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which is a follow-up to the CARES Act. The bill is expected to go up for a vote this upcoming Friday, a welcome sight amid a lagging Congressional response to the dramatic health and economic consequences of COVID-19.

A more in-depth analysis of the bill is forthcoming. However, a close read of the bill reveals clear strengths in its provisions. Many of these strengths are in line with the recommendations in our Human Security campaign, which calls for improved protections for healthcare workers, increased healthcare clinic capacity, a greater income safety net for employees, and criminal justice reform.

The HEROES Act follows through on several of these demands. It expands the amount of paid sick leave, increases the scope of people who may qualify for paid sick leave, bolsters the maximum wage replacement for family care purposes, and laxes some CARES Act restrictions on access to emergency paid sick leave. It also extends paid sick leave provisions one year beyond the date set in the previous bill. The HEROES Act also would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set work safety standards in the interest of all frontline workers.

There are some weaknesses in the bill, namely for the working class individuals and families suffering disproprotionately as a result of the coronavirus. For these groups, the government assistance has either been woefully insufficient or filtered through bureaucratic red tape. However, improvements to these weaknesses must be negotiated, ideally through engagement between both representative bodies. To this point, however, Senate leadership has ignored the progress made in the lower chamber. They have called the HEROES Act a “wish list”, and appear poised to ignore the ongoing impacts of coronavirus.

Given what is at stake, this is a dangerous and unacceptable response. We support the HEROES Act for its strengths, and commend the leadership of the House Democrats for their sense of urgency in bringing this bill to the floor. We will continue to push our partners in Congress to meet the moment and include the reminder of our provisions in future legislation.

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