Congress Moves for A New Piece of Support During Coronavirus

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By Patrick Forrest

The U.S. House of Representatives Friday voted to pass the Heroes Act, a new piece of legislation calling for a new round of provisions as the Coronavirus pandemic continues. In a roll call vote Chicago area Congressional Democrats, including Bobby Rush, Danny Davis and Robin Kelly each voted to approve the bill.

While the legislation follows the previous bills like the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act enacted on April 24, the new legislation extends many new priorities in the new round of the crisis.

The more than 1,800 page bill calls for providing another $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers; ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January; as well as delivering a second round of more substantial economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household.

This bill would also lift the age cap on qualifying dependents and extends the weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through January 2021.

Now that the bill has passed the first House of Congress it moves to the Republican controlled Senate where it is expected to have a tougher time passing. Despite that news, both Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth from the state of Illinois are communicating the necessity of the bill and are hoping their Senate colleagues will join them in support.

“I believe there is a profound sense of emergency here. There is a profound sense of urgency as well… we need to stick with this program of helping America get back on its feet,” Senator Durbin said.

“We need to stand by the individuals who are struggling to feed their families and going to food banks to try to get by. We need to stand by those who are drawing unemployment insurance today with additional federal help, trying to keep their families together while they are looking for a job and waiting for the economy to rebound. We need to stand by the small businesses who cannot survive if we don’t continue our assistance.”

Illinois’ junior senator Tammy Duckworth, who is also reportedly in the running for the vice presidency on Joe Biden’s ticket, touted the bill for including multiple priorities that she has put forward during the current pandemic, including strengthening support for minority-owned small businesses and the supplemental nutrition assistance program.

“Despite Republicans saying they have ‘yet to feel the urgency of acting immediately’ to help lift Americans out of this crisis, Congressional Democrats hear the millions of struggling families loud and clear—and we are working to get relief into the hands of hard-working Americans everywhere,” Duckworth said in a statement.

“This comprehensive package from House Democrats invests in healthcare providers and hospitals, authorizes another round of economic stimulus payments for millions of Americans, provides additional funding for testing and contact tracing, boosts funding for small business grants, adds more support for hunger prevention programs and includes more support to help states and localities to dig themselves out of the COVID-19 crisis.”

No date has been set for debate on the bill in the Senate, despite both Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump in the past expressing support for a new round of economic stimulus payments going out to the American public.

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