Senate must negotiate on Heroes Act to protect workers

29 Jul 2020 | 04:16

    Two months ago, the House passed legislation known as the Heroes Act to extend the full $600 weekly emergency unemployment payments and other critical lifelines for workers and families amid the Coronavirus pandemic. This week, with federal unemployment benefits set to expire on Friday, the Senate still refuses to negotiate.

    Because of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s failure to negotiate with us on the Heroes Act in the past two months while the coronavirus still rages, he has put millions of Pennsylvania workers and families in peril while delaying our recovery and deepening a recession. The House passed the Heroes Act two months ago because struggling communities still need help during this pandemic. It’s time for the Senate to do the right thing and work with us to reach an agreement that supports our workers and families.

    The Senate released a plan this week that would slash unemployed workers’ income by $400 per week through September, and would replace the supplemental benefit with a completely unworkable bureaucracy that will overwhelm already chaotic unemployment offices and risk benefits never going out at all. Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Labor and Industry has said changes to the system could take “months” to implement, leading to serious payout delays.

    The Senate Republican plan also fails workers and families because it:

    Gives wealthy corporations a business meal tax deduction, while refusing to expand SNAP for families struggling to keep food on the table;

    Fails to extend the eviction moratorium, while refusing to provide rental or mortgage assistance to families on the brink of eviction;

    Provides no state and local funding to pay our health workers, first responders, teachers, food, transit and sanitation workers and other frontline heroes risking their lives to save lives and keep the economy running, who risk losing their jobs – and will be forced onto unemployment insurance.

    Hands liability immunity to employers who do not protect workers’ health and safety, while offering no OSHA protections to ensure workers can trust in safe workplaces;

    Provides zero election funding or Post Office assistance, while spending $2 billion on the Trump administration’s priority to renovate the FBI headquarters and prevent competition for Trump Hotel and handing a $30 billion slush fund to defense contractors;

    Refuses to have a strategic and well-funded, science-based testing plan.

    In addition to extending emergency unemployment insurance, the Heroes Act that the House passed in May will protect the paychecks of frontline workers, provide direct payments of up to $6,000 for families who are struggling, support small businesses and invest in the testing needed to reopen our economy safely.

    U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08)

    U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY-04)

    U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (NY-03)