Pascrell Hails HEROES Act
House Democrats’ package focuses on relief for a wounded nation
Paterson, NJ, May 12, 2020
PATERSON, NJ – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today praised the introduction of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) in the House of Representatives to provide more immediate relief to every state and local government across the United States and needed relief for vital workers like first responders, health workers, and teachers keeping us safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“America stands at the cliff’s edge of one of the great crisis points in our nation’s history. The decisions we make today to meet this challenge will determine the health and welfare of generations that will follow us,” said Rep. Pascrell. “This landmark legislation is decisive protection for every American, every state and every locality as we continue to weather this storm. Our neighbors and our communities are drowning and need a line. To those who nay-say, doing nothing is signing a death warrant for our republic and for countless Americans. Moments of cataclysm demand solutions of equal scope and urgency. The HEROES Act is the natural next step Congress must take to save us from this crisis.”
SALT Relief. Pascrell issued a separate statement on the inclusion of a two-year elimination of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction imposed by the GOP Tax Scam of 2017:
“The inclusion of SALT relief in the HEROES Act is a recognition that SALT relief is needed economic relief in response to the COVID crisis,” said Rep. Pascrell, who has been leading efforts in the House to restore SALT. “In fact, SALT relief is critical assistance for our state and local governments, which are already facing brutal service cuts and need help now. The titanic struggle of New Jerseyans to weather this storm has been made more difficult by the constraints of the SALT cap. The SALT relief our bill provides can be a life preserver for our neighbors across New Jersey who are struggling to survive the coming weeks and months.”
Relief for NJ Hospitals. Pascrell also commented on the inclusion in this bill of his Imputed Rural Floor fix, which will reverse a Trump policy that has unfairly targeted New Jersey hospitals:
“House Democrats passed historic stimulus packages to stabilize the economy and put relief directly in the hands of the American people. Today as we continue to advance these goals with another package dealing with this crisis, we’re also moving to end a Trump policy that has unfairly targeted our struggling New Jersey hospitals,” said Rep. Pascrell, who has long supported the IRF and has led efforts to have it restored. “For years, our state’s congressional delegation came together in support of a wage index floor for all-urban states. This fix
HEROES Act Key Provisions
Additional recovery rebates to individuals: The bill provides another $1200 refundable tax credit for each family member to be paid out in advance payments, similar to the Economic Impact Payments in the CARES Act. The credit is $1200 for single filers ($2400 for joint filers), in addition to $1200 per dependent up to a maximum of three dependents. The credit starts phasing out at $75,000 of modified adjusted gross income, $112, 500 for head of households and $150,000 for joint filers.
Support for state and local governments. The newly created State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund would provide $500 billion to states and $375 billion to local governments that can be used for COVID-related expenses. The funds would be distributed based on the state’s share of COVID cases and population.
Help for New Jersey. New Jersey will receive $16.661 billion, specifically $10.230 billion in 2020 and $6.431 billion in 2021.
Aid for NJ local governments. New Jersey municipal governments will receive $11.286 billion, specifically $7.524 billion in 2020 and $3.762 billion in 2021.
Unemployment assistance extended. The legislation extends the emergency unemployment benefits included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act through January 31, 2021.
Assistance for first responders. The legislation makes essential work employers eligible for grants of $10,000 per essential worker ($5,000 for highly compensated essential workers) to cover the entire cost of premium pay, including employer payroll taxes.
Help for heroes. The legislation includes both the Pascrell-led Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act (H.R. 6509) which will provide a Public Safety Officer Benefits death and disability presumption for officers who contract COVID-19, and Rep. Pascrell’s Supporting America's First Responders Act (H.R. 5342) which will provide an above-the-line deduction to first responders for expenses related for tuition or fees related to professional development courses or uniforms.
Grants for firefighters. The legislation provides $500 million for Staffing for Adequate Fire Emergency Response (SAFER) grants for hiring and retaining firefighters, and $500 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG) for personal protective equipment, mental health evaluations, training, and infectious disease decontamination.
Grants for police. The legislation provides $300 million for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants for hiring and re-hiring of police officers, as well as $300 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG) to help prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including for purchasing personal protective equipment and controlling outbreaks of coronavirus in prisons. Importantly, the bill will block the Department of Justice from preventing these funds from going to sanctuary jurisdictions.
Help for hospitals. The HEROES Act requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to re-establish a rural floor for the Medicare hospital area wage index for all-urban hospitals. New Jersey is designated as an all-urban state by CMS and without this rural floor provision, our hospitals are at a disadvantage. New Jersey hospitals are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and they need every resource possible, including parity in Medicare payments.
Treatment coverage for Americans. The bill includes Rep. Pascrell’s Coverage for COVID-19 Treatment Act (H.R. 6568), which provides coverage of COVID-19 related treatment at no cost sharing. It further requires coverage of items and services related to the treatment of COVID-19 in group and individual market health plans and waives cost-sharing requirements for consumers during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Refundable EITC and CTC for Puerto Rico: The bill includes Rep. Pascrell’s legislation extending the Earned Income Tax Credit and the full Child Tax Credit to Puerto Rico and the other territories.
Increases Federal FEMA Public Assistance Cost Share. Per a request led by Rep. Pascrell in April, this bill increases to 100 percent the Federal cost share for assistance provided under the emergency declaration issued by the President on March 13, 2020, pursuant to section 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The current cost share is 75 percent for the federal government and 25 percent for state governments.
Pension relief. The bill includes relief for multiemployer pension plans similar to the Butch Lewis legislation championed by Mr. Pascrell, which passed the House last year.
Saving the post office. The legislation will provide an infusion of $25 billion to help the United States Postal Service survive the pandemic and continue providing invaluable service.
Saving the free press. The HEROES Act includes pension funding relief for certain community newspapers, including several periodicals in the Northeast.
Estimated Possible Breakdown of Local Coronavirus Relief Funding to the 35 Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic cities and towns in NJ-09 as Provided by the House Appropriations Committee: