May 15, 2020

New Democrat Coalition Chair Statement on Passage of The Heroes Act

Today, New Democrat Coalition (NDC) Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06) released the following statement upon House passage of H.R. 6800, The Heroes Act:

“Let’s start with what we know. We know that educators and students have had their lives turned upside down - and they need more resources to ensure kids can learn. We know that small businesses on Main Street are hurting - and they need more help to keep folks on payroll and to weather this storm. We know that workers on the frontlines, in hospitals, in fire and police departments, in grocery stores, and elsewhere, are facing extraordinary strain – and we should have their backs. And we know that economists across the political spectrum - including the Chairman of the Federal Reserve just this week - agree that, in the absence of further federal action, America faces the real risk of a full-scale depression. They agree that things will get worse without action from the federal government.

“This is not a perfect bill – I haven’t found much in DC that qualifies as perfect. There are things in this bill that I wish were not – and there are things that aren’t in it that I wish were.  But Americans need help. The Heroes Act will undoubtedly take steps to give our communities the support they desperately are seeking. New Dems will keep fighting to ensure folks get the help they need to get through this.”

For over two months, the NDC has been working with New Dem Members, public health officials, and economic experts to put forward bold ideas and innovative solutions to aggressively respond to the pandemic and recession. The Coalition and NDC Members were pleased to secure many provisions in The Heroes Act including:

  • An evidence- and science-based national recovery strategy that predicates reopening on communities achieving certain benchmarks. The bill includes $75 billion for widespread testing, tracing, and containment at the local level, backed up by a national system of standards, guidance, assistance, and reporting. The bill also includes policies to promote global health security, surveillance, preparedness, and coordination, recognizing the global nature of current and future public health threats. The Coalition advocated for these policies a letter to House Leadership and Committee Chairs
  • Nearly $1 trillion in funding for state, territories, local and tribal entities, including support for localities with less the 500,000 population threshold included in the CARES Act, to address COVID-19 expenditures and revenue losses
  • Provisions to mitigate potential health insurance premium increases for millions of Americans in 2021 and to establish a special enrollment period for the ACA individual market and Medicare
  • An expanded employee retention tax credit that provides a workable wage subsidy to companies who had operations suspended or experienced a significant decline in revenue to keep businesses viable and workers on payrolls
  • Improvements to the SBA Paycheck Protection Program to expand eligibility, extend loan terms, address certain fees and guarantees, and provide more certainty to small businesses
  • Support for renters including emergency funds for rental assistance and other costs
  • A requirement that the President appoints a Medical Supplies Response Coordinator to help address medical equipment, device, drug, and vaccine supply chain concerns
  • A waiver for co-payments and cost-sharing for COVID-related treatments, and when developed, vaccines, through Medicare, the VA, Medicaid, private insurance, and other avenues
  • Expanded and extended critical assistance to states and health care providers by increasing the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages rate and Disproportionate Share Hospitals payments, making modifications to Medicare advanced payment loans, providing additional funds to health centers and other providers to offset COVID-19 expenses and lost revenue
  • Critical funding to support states for contingency planning, preparation, and resilience of Federal elections

In addition, the NDC received a commitment from the Speaker to continue work on automatic stabilizers for critical COVID-19 assistance programs for potential inclusion in future packages. In a recent op-ed, NDC Chair Derek Kilmer and Joint Economic Committee Vice Chair Don Beyer stressed that Congress should include automatic stabilizers in future response packages. Just as reopening must be science-based, relying on widespread testing, tracing, and containment, the NDC believes our economic recovery must also be evidence-based, tied to the economic conditions so that assistance continues even when legislative action cannot. As the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has said, this is the time to go big and bold.

Leading up to The Heroes Act, the NDC has worked to advance new ideas and build upon legislation already signed into law. NDC Leadership Members sent a letter to House Democratic Leadership and Chairs of the Standing House Committees urging them to focus continued coronavirus response packages on targeted, timely, and temporary policies that address the pandemic and its economic impacts, including through automatic stabilizers, a national recovery strategy, and health care coverage affordability. The NDC also put forward a comprehensive package of policy recommendations and priorities for inclusion in Congress’s coronavirus response and economic recovery packages. A significant majority of the Coalition’s recommendations were included in H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.