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Key Provisions from Cartwright Hazard Pay Bill Included in New House-Led Coronavirus Response Package

May 12, 2020
Press Release
Heroes Act Unveiled Today Includes Pay Boost for Health Care, Other Essential Workers on Front Lines of COVID-19 Fight; Bill Also Provides More Direct Aid to State and Local Governments to Support Frontline Public Service Employees, Another Top Cartwright COVID-19 Response Priority

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today welcomed the inclusion of several of his priorities for northeastern Pennsylvanians in the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion House-led coronavirus response package to meet the ongoing challenge COVID-19 poses to our nation.

“The doctors and nurses treating patients, the workers producing our food, and the people delivering our packages are the ones getting us through this crisis, but they’re doing these jobs at great risk to themselves and their families,” Cartwright said. “In the Heroes Act, we are finally taking a meaningful step toward paying these brave workers what they deserve for fighting on the front lines of this war.”

The Heroes Act would establish a fund within the U.S. Treasury Department to provide a hazard pay increase of $13 per hour to a broad range of essential workers who continue to risk their lives during this pandemic — a key provision from Cartwright’s Coronavirus Frontline Worker Fair Pay Act. This legislation would supply the fund with $200 billion.

In addition, the Heroes Act would provide $5 million to bolster statewide legal hotlines serving seniors this year, modeled after Cartwright's Senior Legal Hotline Act. And it authorizes $500 billion in funding to assist state governments as well as $375 billion to assist local governments with the fiscal impacts from the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus. The provisions to provide localities with direct access to funding was a core component of the Coronavirus Community Relief Act, a bill Cartwright also supports.

“This is desperately needed federal funding for our state and local governments to support our police, firefighters, teachers and other first responders,” Cartwright continued. “We don’t want our state or local governments to go bankrupt. There’s too much at stake for the health of our communities and the livelihoods of our frontline public service workers.”

In addition, this legislation:

  • Supports testing, tracing and treatment, by 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
  • Provides additional direct payments, cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis with a second round of more substantial economic impact payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household
  • Protects payrolls, by enhancing the new employee retention tax credit that encourages employers to keep employees on payroll, allowing 60 million Americans to remain connected to their paychecks and benefits
  • Ensures worker safety, by requiring 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
  • Supports small businesses and nonprofits, by strengthening the Payroll Protection Program to ensure that it reaches underserved communities, nonprofits of all sizes and types and responds flexibly to small businesses by providing $10 billion for Covid-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program
  • Preserves health coverage, by protecting Americans losing their employer-provided health insurance with COBRA subsidies to maintain their coverage and creating a special enrollment period in the ACA exchanges for uninsured Americans
  • Extends unemployment benefits, ensuring weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed
  • Bolsters housing assistance, helping struggling families afford a safe place to live with $175 billion in new supports to assist renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments and other housing-related costs
  • Strengthens food security, addressing rising hunger with a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit and additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table
  • Safeguards our democracy, with new resources to ensure safe elections, an accurate Census, and preserve the Postal Service

The text of The Heroes Act, H.R. 6800, is here. A one pager on the legislation is here. A section-by-section summary is here. A resource on the state and local relief provisions is here.

The legislation follows the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act enacted on April 24; the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted on March 18; and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act enacted on March 6.