Lowey Introduces Heroes Act to Deliver More than an estimated $100 billion in Historic COVID-19 Relief for New York’s Heroes, Workers and Families

May 12, 2020
Press Release

House Spending Package Provides Clear Strategy for Coronavirus Disease Testing and Tracing, Support for Heroes, Relief for Individuals and Families, and State and Local Investments

Estimated $66.64 Billion for New York State, County, and Local Governments –$1.3 Billion for NY-17 Counties and Municipalities

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, today introduced the Heroes Act, legislation to bolster coronavirus testing and tracing, support frontline workers and health care providers, and help New Yorkers recover from the sweeping economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Across the Lower Hudson Valley, families are coping with the loss of loved ones, our frontline heroes continue the fight to save lives and stem the spread of COVID-19, and workers are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads,” said Lowey. “If the federal government does not meet this unprecedented crisis with a historic, dramatic response, we risk losing even more lives to this pandemic and undermining New York’s recovery. This vital aid is absolutely necessary to protect essential health, public safety, education, and other jobs and services in state and local governments and to mitigate an unimaginable economic impact from this pandemic.”

New York’s State, County, and Local Governments are aggressively responding to the coronavirus pandemic to protect the entire nation at a high cost. Relief is included in this package to support their continued response and recovery, including keeping essential workers on the job and essential services in place for residents. The Heroes Act would provide the following assistance:

  • New State and Local Coronavirus Relief Funds through the Department of the Treasury to help governments support first responders, frontline health workers, transit employees, teachers, and other workers providing vital services.
    • New York State would receive an estimated total of $34.4 billion from this fund, $22.3 billion this year and $12.1 billion next year.
    • New York’s municipalities and counties would receive an estimated total of $32.3 billion.
    • NY-17 counties and municipalities would receive an estimated total of $1.28 billion, including $544 million for Westchester County and $112 million for Rockland County.
  • An estimated $3.84 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) out of $15.75 billion in grants nationwide to transit agencies for operating expenses, payments to furloughed workers, worker protections, and compensation for lost revenue. This investment builds on $3.91 billion for the MTA provided by the CARES Act.
  • An estimated $4.95 billion directly to New York from $90 billion to states, local school districts, and public colleges for many purposes including sanitizing, technology, and addressing the impact of long-term closures, which builds upon the $30.75 billion Education Stabilization Fund established in the CARES Act. 
    • Estimated $3.2 billion for New York’s public K-12 schools
    • Estimated $1.4 billion for New York’s public institutions of higher education
    • Estimated $247 million to New York State to address K-12 and/or higher education
  • $10.15 billion nationwide in funding to help alleviate burdens associated with the coronavirus for both colleges and students, including support for minority-serving institutions and private, non-profit institutions of higher education
  • Increased federal cost share for FEMA reimbursable activities from 75 percent to 100 percent to alleviate financial strain on states and local governments while responding to the pandemic
  • Increased Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid reimbursement rates to 14% for one year. This would yield billions for New York State, City, and counties based on estimates for New York’s increase for the previously enacted 6.2% enhancement, which ranged from $4-6.7 billion for one year.
  • $200 million nationwide for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program to bolster services for individuals and families experiencing, or at risk of, food insecurity or homelessness, which builds upon the $200 million provided in the CARES Act

This relief package creates a clear strategy for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and treatment:

  • Billions directly to New York hospitals and providers out of an additional $100 billion nationally for equipment, supplies, staffing, and construction in the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund’s Health Provider Relief Fund. This is in addition to the $7 billion allocated to date in early tranches for New York health providers out of $175 billion for this program.
  • $75 billion for a nationwide testing and contact tracing strategy including public awareness activities.
  • $119 million to New York City and New York State out of $2 billion in CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness funding for public health agencies, which is in addition to $37.3 million already provided for the City and State in prior pandemic response measures.
  • An estimated $475 million of $7.6 billion for Community Health Centers to continue providing quality health care for low-income individuals. This funding is in addition to more than $5.2 million for community health centers in New York out of $100 million nationwide under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act and nearly $76.7 million out of $1.3 billion nationally in the CARES Act. 

This legislation supports New York’s heroes, the health care workers and first responders risking their lives to save our communities:

  • Establishes a $200 billion fund to ensure that essential workers nationwide who have risked their lives working during the pandemic receive hazard pay
  • Establishes a Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program to enhance recruitment and retention of state, local, tribal, and territorial public health workers
  • Ensures overtime for first responders is reimbursable by FEMA 
  • $500 million nationwide for Assistance to Firefighters Grants to support the safety of the public and firefighters by reducing injury and preventing death among high-risk populations
  • $500 million nationwide for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants to increase the number of trained, front-line firefighters available to our communities

The Heroes Act would help alleviate some of the pain of families and individuals who don’t know where their next meals are coming from or how to pay next month’s rent:

  • Extends the $600 per week federal unemployment payments through January 31, 2021, providing a vital safety net for the record number of Americans who are unemployed.
  • $15 million nationwide for the federal administration of unemployment insurance activities and $925 million to assist all States in processing unemployment insurance claims to better serve New York workers, which includes part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers
  • Directs the President to provide access to funeral assistance under FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program
  • Restores tax fairness for New Yorkers by repealing the $10,000 cap for State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT) which has prevented approximately 35% of New York taxpayers from deducting an average of $22,000 from their federal income taxes. In NY-17, it has prevented 45% of taxpayers from deducting an average of $26,000.
  • Includes Direct Payments of $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per family
  • $100 billion in additional rental assistance
  • $75 billion nationwide to states, territories, and tribes to address the ongoing needs of homeowners impacted by the pandemic 
  • More than $100 million of $1.5 billion in LIHEAP funding to provide low-income New Yorkers with heating and cooling assistance. This is in addition to the $900 million in LIHEAP supplemental funding in the CARES Act
  • Estimated $315 million for New York from $7 billion for Child Care and Development Block Grants to expand access to child care, especially for health care workers and to aid child care providers
  • Estimated $382.8 million for New York with more to come from $11.5 billion for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) to support families and individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as additional homeless assistance to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. The first $4 billion tranche of ESG funding will be distributed based on FY2020 formula allocations, with the remaining $7.5 billion later distributed according to need. This builds upon $4 billion provided for Emergency Solutions Grants in the CARES Act.
  • Makes nonprofits of all sizes—including many nonprofits that provide care and services to local residents in need while employing a substantial workforce—eligible to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program, which was created to help small businesses and originally only certain nonprofits keep their employees and mitigate higher unemployment rates

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

The text of the bill, H.R. 6800– The Heroes Act, 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.