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During National Police Week Pascrell Lauds HEROES Act Support for Police, First Responders

Introduction and possible passage during National Police Week a fitting recognition of special role

Paterson, NJ, May 15, 2020

PATERSON, NJ – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), the co-chairman of the House Law Enforcement Caucus, today touted a raft of funding and support for America’s law enforcement included in the emergency Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) that the House of Representatives is slated to consider Friday.

“That this landmark legislation is called the HEROES Act is appropriate because a big part of it is about supporting our police,” said Rep. Pascrell, one of Congress’s leaders for law enforcement. “While this pandemic is touching every person and corner of our country, the burden on our law enforcement is especially heavy. With first responders and medical personnel, America’s officers in blue constitute the very front line of national defense. The men and woman serving in departments across our country standing between us and this virus are keeping us all safe. They need support from the federal government. That this bill was unveiled during National Police Week celebrations is especially fitting. I am disappointed we can’t hold all of our regular meetings with law enforcement leaders because of the crisis, but this legislation is an important recognition and support for their service.”

The HEROES Act includes the following in support of law enforcement

Benefits for the fallen. The Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act (H.R. 6509) was included in the HEROES Act to provide a Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB) death and disability presumption for officers who contract COVID-19. Rep. Pascrell joined Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY-10) and Rep. Max Rose (D-NY-11) in introducing this legislation in April, and advocated for its inclusion in this bill to ensure any officer who falls or becomes disabled by COVID-19 receives federal benefits.

Covering first responder expenses. The Supporting America's First Responders Act (H.R. 5342) was included in the HEROES Act to provide an above-the-line tax deduction to first responders for expenses related for tuition or fees tied to professional development courses or uniforms. Rep. Pascrell introduced H.R. 5342 in December 2019 and called for its inclusion in the HEROES Act to allow first responders to receive a tax deduction for personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases to protect our men and women in uniform. The HEROES Act also temporarily allows this deduction to apply to any front line employee, and not just first responders.

Providing more assistance to responders. In April, Rep. Pascrell led 159 of his Democratic and Republican colleagues in a letter to House leadership calling for additional aid to first responders in further stimulus packages. The HEROES Act follows through on his several of Rep. Pascrell’s direct requests by:

  • Providing $300 million for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants for hiring and re-hiring of police officers, with federal cost-share requirements removed.
  • Providing $300 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG) to help prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19, including for PPE equipment and controlling outbreaks of the virus at prisons, with federal cost-share requirements removed. As Rep. Pascrell has long advocated for, this bill additionally prevents the Department of Justice from preventing these funds from going to sanctuary jurisdictions.
  • Eliminating provisions that permit emergency responders’ employers to exclude their employees from emergency Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave due to COVID-19. This ensures first responders have guaranteed paid sick and family leave protections.
  • Providing premium pay for first responders, in addition to other essential workers. Specifically, essential work employers are 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 for premium pay. Employers that apply for and receive grants will pay essential workers $13 per hour premium pay on top of regular wages. 
  • Waives the federal law enforcement officer premium pay and overtime cap under 5 USC § 5547.
  • Assures a two-year elimination of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap imposed by the GOP tax scam of 2017. This change will gives state and local governments great flexibility to avoid cuts to police departments and social services, and has been one of Rep. Pascrell’s top priorities in the 116th Congress.
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