Durbin Calls On Senate Colleagues To Support The HEROES Act

In Speech On Senate Floor, Durbin Calls Out Senator McConnell’s Statement That Senate Republicans Have ‘Yet To Feel The Urgency Of Acting Immediately’

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today urged his Republican colleagues to support the Heroes Act, Congressional Democrats’ proposal for the next coronavirus economic stimulus package.  The legislation increases aid for our health care system and state and local governments, extends unemployment insurance benefits, helps keep laid-off workers on their employer health plans, provides additional direct payments, and extends hazard pay to essential workers.  Durbin also called out Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s statement that Senate Republicans have ‘yet to feel the urgency of acting immediately’ to address this public health and economic crises.

“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,” 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.”

Durbin continued, “As I said yesterday, you don’t build a bridge halfway across a river.  You build it all the way.  Let’s build it to the point where our economy can rebound with strength and people can get back to work.  Let’s stand with the workers and their families and the businesses and support the Heroes Act that has been introduced in the House of Representatives.”

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

The Heroes Act includes $100 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services Health Provider Relief Fund for hospitals and other providers, adding to the $175 billion already appropriated.   The bill also includes $7.6 billion in dedicated funding for Community Health Centers, and $75 billion for a new testing and contact tracing initiative.  And the legislation allows laid-off workers to remain on their employer-sponsored health plans for at least nine months, at no cost, through the COBRA program.

The bill authorizes a second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP), while expanding eligibility and strengthening protections from garnishment.  Taxpayers with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers would be eligible to receive EIPs, making mixed-status families eligible to receive relief.  This bill would also lift the age cap on qualifying dependents and extends the weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through January 2021.

The bill authorizes $875 billion in fiscal relief funding for states and localities with increased flexibility for the use of these funds to replace lost revenues.  The bill also establishes a $200 billion Heroes’ fund to ensure that essential workers receive hazard pay.

The bill requires OSHA to issue a strong, enforceable standard within seven days to require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise, and prevents employers from retaliating against workers who report infection control problems.