Crist Votes for Updated Heroes Act to Provide Robust Relief to Pinellas Families and Small Biz

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Washington, DC, October 1, 2020 | comments

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) released the following statement on the Updated Heroes Act (H.R.925), relief legislation aimed at protecting the lives and livelihood of American families as the nation continues to combat the public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Updated Heroes Act, which passed today by a vote of 214-207, comes following months of Senate inaction on the original aid package passed by the House back in May, which would have granted working families needed relief much sooner, prevented layoffs, and kept unemployed workers from losing their $600 add-on.

The $2.2 trillion package is the latest attempt by the People’s House to deliver relief that meets the needs of Pinellas families and the weight of the moment. In April, Congressman Crist sent a letter calling for 19 additional provisions to be included in future coronavirus response packages. The new Heroes Act includes several provisions that Crist has been fighting for including:

  • A second round of stimulus checks, payments of $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per dependent, including payments for adult dependents, college students, and adults with disabilities.
  • Restoring federal unemployment benefits, reinstating the weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January, preventing unemployed workers from exhausting their eligibility, and providing a vital safety net for the record number of Floridians who are unemployed through no fault of their own.
  • Strengthening food security with a 15% increase in the SNAP benefit so Pinellas children and families don't go hungry.
  • Supporting testing, tracing and treatment through $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, with special attention to the disparities facing communities of color so that every American can get access to a free coronavirus test and we can reopen our economy and get kids back to school safely.
  • Relief for small businesses by improving and expanding the Paycheck Protection Program to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits, delivering $120 billion in targeted assistance for our beloved local restaurants, and $10 billion for independent live venue operators.
  • Health coverage for those who lost their jobs by giving unemployed Americans the maximum subsidy under the Affordable Care Act and providing a special enrollment period for the uninsured.

“Nearly seven months into this pandemic, the American people are still struggling to keep their heads above water as the dual crises of COVID-19 and a historic recession sends wave after wave their way. In May, the People’s House responded by passing The Heroes Act, which included another round of stimulus checks for Americans and dependents who had been left out of the last round. We increased SNAP benefits and flexibility to purchase food because we knew families needed help putting food on the table. We extended the $600 weekly federal unemployment assistance and included even more funding for small businesses so that mom-and-pop shops and restaurants and bars here in Pinellas could weather this storm and retain their workforce so they could re-open sooner. We provided hazard pay to essential employees, forbearance protection to homeowners, and funding for state and local governments so they could keep teachers, firefighters, and sanitation workers on the job without having to raise taxes. The People’s House acted quickly, building on the CARES Act with input from our constituents who were still hurting. Yet, the Senate did nothing. And since then, our communities have only continued to suffer.

“The Updated Heroes Act meets the White House halfway so that we can get desperately needed relief to the American people before it’s too late. This package is big because the crisis we face is big. And the House of Representatives made a commitment to the people that we would meet the gravity of the moment. Today, I’m proud to vote for a bill that still delivers for Pinellas families and the American economy – another stimulus check, restoring the $600 unemployment benefit, food assistance, small business relief, and more.

“Floridians are resilient, but in the face of joblessness, eviction, and devastating economic insecurity for working families, they shouldn’t be left on their own. I hope that leaders in the Senate and White House open their hearts and recognize the pain that their inaction is causing. Americans have been praying for relief for over four long months. The American people are watching.”

Additionally, the Updated Heroes Act includes:

  • Protection for homeowners and renters by instituting a 12 month nationwide moratorium on foreclosure and eviction;
  • $12 billion in funding to equip students in need with wi-fi hotspots, laptops, and other devices so they can successfully complete school in a time of virtual learning;
  • $4.5 billion for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help low-income families cover their energy costs;
  • $8.5 billion for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to boost mental health services and treatment for those suffering during unprecedented times;
  • $25 million for Adult Protective Services to defend seniors vulnerable to abuse and neglect;
  • $15 billion for the United States Postal Service to support timely delivery of paychecks, prescription drugs, and mail-in ballots;
  • $179 billion for municipal and county governments so those closest to the people can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • $30 million for zoos and aquariums like Clearwater Marine Aquarium to care for endangered species;
  • $3.6 billion to safeguard our elections and protect every citizen’s right to vote safely and securely; 
  • Support for Florida’s tourism industry by making destination marketing organizations like Visit Florida eligible for PPP loans;
  • $6 billion for state and local health departments to expand their local COVID-19 response workforce, improve laboratory systems, and increase disease surveillance and contact tracing capacity;
  • And authorizes the President to use the Defense Production Act to produce and distribute tests, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, and effective treatments.
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